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Asuragen Developing Companion Dx for Undisclosed Biogen Drug

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By Turna Ray

Asuragen and Biogen Idec will be working together to co-develop a drug-diagnostic combination product for an undisclosed indication.

In a statement this week, Asuragen said it had entered into an agreement with Biogen Idec to identify “a potential companion diagnostic test that may be used to select patients likely to respond to a Biogen Idec therapeutic candidate in clinical development.”

In a statement to Pharmacogenomics Reporter, a Biogen Idec spokesperson said that “for competitive reasons [the company is] not providing additional details of [its] arrangement with Asuragen beyond what is provided in the press release.”

However according to a statement from Asuragen CEO Matt Winkler, it seems that the Rx/Dx product will be a personalized cancer treatment. “The integrated drug-diagnostic co-development strategy being pursued by Biogen Idec and Asuragen has enormous potential to help physicians identify patients that will benefit from specific cancer treatments," Winkler said in a statement.

In this case, Biogen Idec’s oncology pipeline, dominated by monoclonal antibodies in various stages of development, may provide further clues as to the product at the heart of the collaboration.

In its oncology portfolio, Biogen Idec currently has in Phase I studies a monoclonal antibody specific for IGF-1R and a Cripto-targeting monoclonal antibody combined with ImmunoGen’s DM4 cell-killing agent. Both agents are being studied in solid tumors.

The company is also investigating the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri in multiple myeloma in Phase I studies, and has a Raf inhibitor in pre-clinical trials.

In Phase II, the point at which most genomic-biomarker studies begin, Biogen Idec is currently looking at a novel small-molecule HSP90 inhibitor in solid tumors; an anti-CD23 monoclonal antibody (lumiliximab) in chronic lymphocytic leukemia; and a monoclonal antibody targeting alpha5beta1 integrin called volociximab in solid tumors. Biogen Idec is developing volociximab under a collaboration with PDL BioPharma.

Lastly, in Phase III studies, Biogen Idec is developing an anti-CD80 monoclonal antibody, called galiximab, in non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma.

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