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Abbott to work on Tarceva diagnostic

Published on 12/03/08 at 04:38pm

Abbott is to develop a diagnostic test for Tarceva to identify patients who could most benefit from the lung cancer treatment.

The company will team up with the drug's co-marketers Genentech, Roche and OSI Pharmaceuticals, to work on the new diagnostic.

Tarceva (erlotinib) is used to treat locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but response rates vary greatly from patient to patient depending on a presence of a particular gene.

Some individuals have an extra copy of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene, which can mean that their lung cancer will grow faster than in other patients.

Tarceva blocks the EGFR mechanism, helping to slow down or stop tumour growth, and is much more effective in patients with the extra gene, but there is no simple test for it.

Now Abbott aims to help develop one that will detect extra copies of the EGFR gene using its proprietary fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technology.

In identifying patients who will benefit most from the drug, the numbers of patients who are eligible for treatment will be cut considerably, but Roche and Genentech may be able to raise their prices in line with greater benefits for patients.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"By helping to unlock the information found at the molecular level in each person's DNA, we believe that molecular diagnostics hold the promise of personalised medicine," said Stafford O'Kelly, VP molecular diagnostics, Abbott.

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