Roche, Merck form diagnostics collaboration
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. & PLEASANTON, Calif.—Diagnostics leader Roche and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, have entered into a collaboration with the goal of applying and developing diagnostic assays for use with Merck's investigational cancer therapy portfolio. No financial terms for the collaboration were disclosed.
Per the terms of the agreement, Roche Diagnostics will provide diagnostic assays for Merck to utilize in the clinical oncology programs the company is conducting. In addition, Merck will further the usage of Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay in order to determine patients most suitable to take part in trials. Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay utilizes both Roche's PCR technology and Affymetrix's high-density microarray technology and is designed to detect p53 DNA damage in tumor cells, which can aid in singling out cells that might possess damaged p53 and therefore be treatment resistant.  
"We are very pleased to showcase our leadership position in personalized healthcare by entering into this agreement with Merck. Roche hopes that, through our joint efforts, we will be able to provide companion diagnostic tests which lead to better solutions for patients worldwide," said Paul Brown, Head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, a press release.
The terms regarding Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay stem from a previously announced collaboration between Roche and Merck. Additional terms of the latest collaboration include that the two companies will apply technologies such as array and immunohistochemical (IHC/ISH) technologies. Roche Diagnostics will be responsible for providing Merck with validated, standardized assays that Merck can employ in their clinical oncology programs.  
"Effective use of companion diagnostics is an important component of our oncology development strategy focused on targeted therapies," Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and head of oncology research at Merck, said in a press release. "This collaboration provides Merck with access to diverse developmental and commercial diagnostic technologies that will facilitate the identification and monitoring of those patients most likely to respond to our investigational cancer therapies."  
The collaboration is the most recent aspect of a long relationship between the two companies, following Merck and Roche's recent co-promotion agreement, announced last month, in which the two teamed up to promote Victrelis, Merck's hepatitis C drug. The co-promotion agreement was formed as Victrelis goes up against Incivek, or telaprevir, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s recently approved hepatitis C treatment.  
Roche's collaboration with Merck is the most recent of its partnerships with other giants in the industry. Roche has also entered into a clinical collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to evaluate the efficacy of Bristol-Myers Squibb's CLTA-4 inhibitor in combination with Roche's investigation oral BRAF inhibitor for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.
Code: E06071101

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