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Abbott (NYSE:ABT) announced today that it will expand its existing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals S.A. (GSK) to include the development of an additional companion diagnostic test in support of GSK’s cancer immunotherapy research program. Companion diagnostic tests are designed to identify specific DNA sequences to help guide physicians in determining which patients are more or less likely to benefit from a particular therapy.
The existing agreements between the two companies, announced in July 2009 and March 2010, focused on the development of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to screen non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma tumors for expression of the MAGE-A3 antigen. Under the expanded agreement, Abbott will develop a PCR test for use on the Abbott m2000rt™ instrument to screen non-small cell lung cancer tumors for the expression of the PRAME antigen. PRAME is a preferentially expressed antigen of melanoma that is expressed in 69 percent of non-small cell lung cancer cases, as well as in a wide variety of cancer types, including melanoma, breast, ovarian, and bladder cancer, with limited expression in normal cells.
“This expanded collaboration, along with Abbott’s other recently announced partnerships in oncology, demonstrates the continued commitment Abbott is making to assess biomarkers linked to immunotherapies in various cancers,” said Stafford O’Kelly, head of Abbott’s molecular diagnostics business. “This agreement is a testament to the scientific advances Abbott and the industry is making in personalized medicine and companion diagnostics, which are helping ensure the right medicines get to the right cancer patients.”
Molecular Tests for Oncology
Abbott’s development efforts in areas such as MAGE-A3 and PRAME will further build its leadership position in cancer diagnostics and personalized medicine. Abbott is a pioneer in the use of molecular tests based on PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technologies to aid clinicians in the selection of appropriate pharmacogenomic therapies.
About GSK’s Antigen Specific Cancer Immunotherapy Program (ASCI)
GSK’s ASCIs represent a novel class of medicines designed to train the immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells in a highly specific manner. These novel cancer immunotherapeutics combine tumor antigens, delivered as purified recombinant proteins, and GSK’s proprietary Adjuvant Systems, which are specific combinations of immunostimulating compounds selected to increase the anti-tumor immune response. ASCIs are being investigated in the clinic to support their use to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence following surgery, or to impact tumor growth in an early metastatic setting. The highly specific mode of action of GSK’s ASCIs allows development of diagnostic tools to aid in selecting patients eligible for the treatment, depending on the expression of the tumor antigens.
MAGE-A3 is a tumor-specific antigen that is expressed in a large variety of cancers, including melanoma, non-small cell lung, head and neck, and bladder cancer, with no expression in normal cells. Expression of the MAGE-A3 gene has been observed in testicular cells but without antigen presentation capabilities. MAGE-A3 protein has been in-licensed by GSK from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the largest international academic institute dedicated to understanding and controlling cancer.
ASCI is an investigational compound and it is not approved for use in any indication in any country at this time.
About Abbott Molecular
Abbott Molecular, abbottmolecular.com, is a leader in molecular diagnostics — the analysis of DNA and RNA at the molecular level. Abbott Molecular’s tests can also detect subtle but key changes in patients’ genes and chromosomes and have the potential for earlier detection or diagnosis, provide information relevant to the selection of appropriate therapies, and may improve monitoring of disease progression.
Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.