Roche and Merck to develop cancer diagnostic tests


Aim to provide diagnostic assays for use with Merck’s cancer therapy portfolio

Merck (known outside the US as MSD) has teamed up with Switzerland-based Roche to develop diagnostic assays for use with the US pharmaceutical firm’s investigational cancer therapy portfolio. Financial details were not disclosed.

Merck will also expand its use of Roche's investigational AmpliChip p53 assay in its clinical programmes ‘to stratify and identify patients suitable for inclusion in ongoing/planned trial(s)’.

Gary Gilliland, Merck’s senior vp and head of oncology, said: "Effective use of companion diagnostics is an important component of our oncology development strategy focused on targeted therapies.

‘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.’

This is the second collaboration for the two firms. Last month they agreed to explore new combinations of investigational and marketed medicines for chronic hepatitis C infection in the US.

Under the terms of a non-exclusive agreement, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, will include Victrelis (boceprevir) as part of its promotion to healthcare professionals on the use of Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) in a triple combination therapy regimen. Pegasys is the foundation of the current standard of care in chronic hepatitis C.