Bayer HealthCare and Qiagen have agreed to work together to develop pairs of companion diagnostics and targeted therapies, initially for treating solid tumors, but potentially for noncancer indications. The companion diagnostics, designed to run on Qiagen’s QIAsymphony instrument line, will be developed to help guide treatment using Bayer Healthcare therapeutics. The firms will in addition partner on the development of technologies for patient profiling, for potential research use in exploratory and translational medicine.

“Partnering with Qiagen on companion diagnostics will help Bayer HealthCare to develop innovative therapies, enabling physicians to analyze DNA and proteins from each patient,” remarks Andreas Busch, Ph.D., head of global drug discovery at Bayer HealthCare. “This helps to design more efficient clincial trials and to increase the overall probability of therapeutic success for patients suffering from cancer.”

Qiagen says that outside the latest deal with Bayer Healthcare, it has over 15 additional projects in place with biotech and pharma companies focused on codeveloping and marketing companion diagnostics. A major milestone was reached in July, on FDA approval of therascreen® RGQ PCR Kit, a companion diagnostic used to help identify metastatic colorectal cancer patients most likely to respond to therapy with Erbitux® (cetuximab).

The test was the first of Qiagen’s companion diagnostics to have been approved in the U.S. Qiagen currently markets therascreen assays in Europe for biomarkers including KRAS, EGFR NRAS, BRAF, PI3K, JAK2, MGMT, and UGT1A1. In Japan, the therascreen KRAS and EGFR kits were approved in 2011.

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