Roche unit gets Astellas assay development deal

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Ventana HQ in Tuscon, Arizona
Ventana HQ in Tuscon, Arizona

Related tags Oncology

Roche’s Ventana Medical Systems will help Astellas find patients likely to be helped by its candidate cancer drug ASP5878 in a deal that could yield a commercial companion diagnostic.

Arizona, US-based Ventana announced the deal this week, explaining that it will develop an automated tissue diagnostic tech to identify cancer patients whose tumours express fibroblast growth factor receptor 19 (FGF19), which is the target of the Astellas drug.

Ventana spokeswoman Jacqueline Bucher told “this project seeks to stratify patients based on their expression of FGFR19.”

ASP5878 is a novel small-molecule FGFR inhibitor which has been shown to block the kinase activities of FGFR1, FGFR2, FGFR3 and FGFR4. Astellas is developing the drug in-house as an oral cancer treatment.

The drug is still in early development. According to a post on the US website a study of the drug in patients with solid tumors that was registered in 2013 is still in the recruitment phase.

While initially focused on supporting Astellas’ efforts to find suitable patients, the collaboration does has the potential to extend according to Bucher.

She told us: “We engage in development work that provides support for this project. In the event that our assay identifies patients that benefit from ASP5878, this diagnostic may ultimately result in an on market CDx Assay​.”

News of the deal comes a few days after Roche acquired private genomics company CAPP Medical in a deal designed to expand its companion diagnostics business and its own oncology product pipeline.

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