Roche Group subsidiary Ventana Medical Systems has signed a master collaboration agreement with Astellas Pharma to develop new companion diagnostic tests for targeted cancer treatments.


Companion diagnostics (CDx) are tests designed to confirm the presence of a specific biomarker to help physicians in selecting effective therapies for their patients, based on the individual characteristics of each person.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Ventana Companion Diagnostics vice-president Doug Ward said: "We are pleased to expand our relationship with Astellas with this master companion diagnostic agreement, which allows our collaborative projects to quickly move from early stage biomarker hypothesis testing to late stage companion diagnostic development with Astellas’ targeted therapies in oncology."

Under the deal, the companies will develop new automated tissue diagnostics, in a bid to support therapeutic compounds under development.

Initial projects associated with the agreement will support early-stage clinical trials for the Astellas therapeutic compound ASP5878, a new small-molecule fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor that has been shown to block the kinase activities of FGFR1, FGFR2, FGFR3 and FGFR4.

Ventana, in parallel, will develop an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test identifying FGF19 in certain solid tumors.

Image: FGFRs are receptors that bind growth factors responsible for cell proliferation, growth, structure, movement and shape. Photo: courtesy of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.