San Diego’s Illumina Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) announced Thursday that it has formed collaborative partnerships with three leading pharmaceutical companies to develop a universal next-generation genetic sequencing test system for cancers.
Illumina’s initial partners in the project are AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), Sanofi (SNY) and Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).
Illumina is working with the partners to develop tests that detect and measure multiple genetic variants simultaneously to support more precisely targeted cancer therapies. The goal is to develop and commercialize a multigene panel for therapeutic selection, resulting in a more comprehensive tool for precision medicine.
“This partnership has the potential to deliver an unprecedented amount of clinical information from a single test,” said Ruth March, vice president for personalized health care and biomarkers at AstraZeneca. “Illumina’s technology will inform doctors about the molecular make-up of their patients’ tumors, enabling them to match medicines to the drivers of disease. Our aim is that doctors can use these tests to prescribe the right drugs to the right patients -- bringing benefits to health care professionals, payers and patients alike.”
So far, 125 genes have been discovered that help drive the growth of cancer tumors. While the number of available targeted therapies is limited, an estimated 800 oncology drugs are in development, many of which are designed to target specific mutations. With the emergence of new targeted therapies, there is growing need for new companion diagnostic tests.
“The transition to patient-centered companion therapeutics marks a new era for oncology, and we are pleased to see pharmaceutical companies working with Illumina on a universal platform to bring life-saving treatments through their development pipelines,” said Ellen V. Sigal, chair and founder of Friends of Cancer Research. “This is the type of collaboration that will make real progress for patients.”
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