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GEN News Highlights : Jun 7, 2011

Merck & Co. Teams with Roche to Develop Companion Diagnostics for Cancer Therapy

Merck will expand use of AmpliChip p53 microarray and also use new assays provided by Roche.

Roche is partnering with Merck & Co. on the development of companion diagnostic assays for use alongside the latter’s cancer therapy pipeline. As part of the partnership, Roche Diagnostics will provide validated, standardized assays for use in Merck’s clinical oncology programs.

Merck will also expand its use of Roche’s investigational AmpliChip p53 assay in its clinical programs for stratifying and identifying patients suitable for inclusion in trials. The firms have an ongoing agreement that gives Merck access to the microarray-based AmpliChip p53 test.

“Effective use of companion diagnostics is an important component of our oncology development strategy focused on targeted therapies,” remarks Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., svp and head of oncology research at Merck. “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.”

Merck's clinical-stage cancer pipeline includes three candidates. V503 is in Phase III development as a vaccine against HPV and cervical cancer. In Phase II trials are a mAb called MK-0646 and a small molecule named SCH 727965.