Roche and Merck KGaA team on a multicancer companion diagnostic test

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Companion diagnostics deals are an unstoppable train, and once again, Roche's ($RHHBY) Ventana Medical Systems is at the center of another new partnership in the space.

Ventana said it will develop a companion diagnostic test with Germany's Merck KGaA that can be used for many different cancer types.

Neither side is disclosing financial specifics or even what genetic target will be used for the test development. But personalized medicine is key here. Both sides envision using the test for many different cancer indications. Merck KGaA (EMD Serono in the U.S. and Canada) is pumping a lot of extra cash into companion diagnostics innovations through partnerships beyond its Ventana deal, according to the announcement. Ventana plans to develop and validate the test and make sure it meets FDA and other countries' regulatory standards once it hits the clinical trial stage.

Doug Ward, Ventana's vice president for companion diagnostics, noted in a statement that his company is partnering with Merck KGaA in Germany in an era of personalized medicine, where "tailoring therapies based on a patient's specific genes, proteins or tissue environment is a key area of expansion for oncology."

Merck KGaA is far from Ventana's only companion diagnostics partner, however. The company is also working on various companion diagnostics projects with companies including Genmab, Incyte ($INCY), MedImmune, Takeda's Millennium arm, Bayer, Pfizer ($PFE), Boehringer Ingelheim and others. Right now, Ventana said it is working on more than 180 projects in this space with a global focus. This underscores how nearly every drug company focused on new treatments wants a companion diagnostic test to screen for patients who would benefit most.

- read the release

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