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Qiagen's DxS Unit to Develop Companion Dx for Pfizer Compound

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Pfizer said Thursday after the close of the market that Qiagen subsidiary DxS will develop a companion diagnostic for a brain cancer treatment that the drug maker has in Phase 2 clinical trials.

DxS will develop a real-time PCR assay to identify patients whose tumors express the epidermal growth factor receptor variant III, a mutated form of the receptor that is only present in cancer cells and occurs in 25 to 40 percent of glioblastoma multiforme patients. GBM occurs in around 25,000 patients worldwide each year.

Pfizer's investigational drug, which it licensed from Celldex Therapeutics in 2008, is a peptide vaccine that targets EGFR variant III.

Garry Nicholson, president and general manager of Pfizer's oncology business unit, said in a statement that the test "could potentially help physicians better define the most appropriate treatment for patients who suffer from glioblastoma multiforme."

The test will be developed and manufactured at Qiagen's Center of Excellence for Companion Diagnostics in Manchester, UK.

Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Andrew Webb, sales and marketing director for Qiagen's DxS business, told GenomeWeb Daily News at the Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference in San Francisco today that Pfizer holds the intellectual property rights to the EGFR variant III marker, but that DxS has negotiated the right to "operate within the Pfizer license."

He said that Qiagen will commercialize the test while Pfizer will market the compound.

Webb noted that the agreement with Pfizer is the first that DxS has signed since it was acquired by Qiagen last fall, and cited the deal with the drug giant as an "endorsement of the acquisition."

Bernadette Toner contributed to this article from San Francisco.

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