July 28, 2014
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Qiagen partners with AstraZeneca on diagnostic companion for gefitinib in NSCLC

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Qiagen and AstraZeneca will collaborate on the development and commercialization of a liquid biopsy-based companion diagnostic for gefitinib, a non–small cell lung cancer treatment marketed by AstraZeneca.

The project builds on a framework agreement signed by both companies in 2013 and intends to develop and market a novel Qiagen companion diagnostic that analyzes plasma samples to assess EGFR mutation status in NSCLC patients.

The companies will collaborate to create a new companion diagnostic for gefitinib (Iressa, AstraZeneca), an oral epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor commonly used during NSCLC treatment, based on liquid biopsy samples from NSCLC patients rather than requiring invasive surgical collection of tissue samples.

“By combining AstraZeneca’s expertise in lung cancer with Qiagen’s diagnostic capabilities, we have the potential to transform the way specific tumour types are identified and treated,” Mondher Mahjoubi, senior vice president of Global Product Strategy for Oncology at AstraZeneca, said in a press release. “The use of circulating tumour DNA testing will allow doctors to target the individual needs of each patient quickly and accurately.”

Data from several studies presented at the World Lung 2013 conference, provided evidence of the ability to assess the EGFR status of advanced lung cancer patients using blood/plasma samples. This breakthrough may provide hope for patients for whom surgical biopsy is not an option by enabling them to have their EGFR mutation status assessed using a less invasive method.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with AstraZeneca in developing this new tool to improve life for lung cancer patients,” Peer M. Schatz, chief executive officer of Qiagen, said in a release. “This collaboration will further expand Qiagen’s rapidly growing portfolio of liquid biopsy solutions for personalized healthcare which paves a path for patient monitoring using blood tests for future Qiagen therascreen companion diagnostics. We are changing the treatment landscape with highly reliable genomic tests based on blood samples or other body fluids, providing physicians and patients with additional options to determine treatments and monitor progress.”