Extending a partnership stretching back 8 years, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Qiagen plan to explore the use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology to develop gene expression profiles (GEPs) as predictive or prognostic tools for several of the pharma giant’s immuno-oncology (I-O) therapies.

BMS and Qiagen said they intend initially to develop GEPs for “several” unspecified I-O molecules, and then develop diagnostics using the jointly developed profiles and expand the use of NGS technology with other BMS I-O therapies.

BMS said its clinical development program has 14 clinical-stage molecules designed to target different immune system pathways and is studying broad patient populations across more than 50 types of cancers.

“We believe working with Qiagen will help develop better diagnostic tools to target the most appropriate immunotherapies across a number of different tumor types,” Fouad Namouni, M.D., head of development, oncology for BMS, said Saturday in a statement.

The companies have worked as partners since 2009, most notably teaming to win FDA approval for the therascreen KRAS RGQ PCR Kit companion/complementary diagnostic assay in 2012 for Erbitux® (cetuximab), which BMS co-marketed with Eli Lilly in the U.S. until 2015.

Added Qiagen CEO Peer M. Schatz: “We are very pleased to work with BMS to potentially create what could be the first-ever NGS-based companion or complementary diagnostic to provide key insights for personalized decision-making in the rapidly expanding area of immuno-oncology.”

The latest collaboration is designed to combine BMS’ portfolio of I-O therapies with Qiagen’s portfolio of NGS technologies, as well as its expertise in developing and commercializing companion and complementary diagnostics.

Qiagen’s NGS portfolio includes the GeneReader NGS System, which the company says is increasingly designed for pharmaceutical companies seeking to apply NGS. GeneReader includes integrated bioinformatics for analysis and interpretation of NGS data and a family of gene panels under the GeneRead QIAact brand designed to enable laboratories to identify gene variations linked to cancers and to deliver actionable molecular insights.

Qiagen says GeneReader’s capabilities include high-sensitivity detection in liquid biopsy samples, compatibility with the company’s QIAsymphony automation platform for high-throughput sample processing, and software integration with leading laboratory information management systems (LIMS).

The current version of the GeneReader NGS System is available in the U.S. for research use only.

Previous articleOlive Oil May Help Prevent Brain Cancer
Next articleDiscovery May Lead to Novel Methods for Promoting Heart Cell Renewal