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Roche's Ventana to Develop Companion Tests for Incyte, Starting with Phase II IDO1 Inhibitor

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Roche Subsidiary Ventana Medical Systems and Incyte announced this week that the two companies have made an agreement under which Ventana will support Incyte's cancer drug development with companion diagnostic tests, beginning with a test for a compound in Incyte's IDO1 inhibitor program.

Incyte's Group Vice President Victor Sandor said in a statement that "with the advancement of INCB24360 into multiple Phase 2 studies, [the company's] first-in-class IDO1 inhibitor program was a logical place to begin to incorporate potential companion diagnostics."

Preclinical studies have shown that inhibition of IDO increases the anti-tumor immune response and dramatically increases the efficacy of various chemotherapeutic agents, according to Incyte.

The company is currently evaluating INCB24360 in an open-label, randomized, Phase II study comparing the drug against tamoxifen in biochemical recurrent-only ovarian cancer patients following complete remission with first-line chemotherapy.

The company also has a second Phase II trial testing INCB024360 in dose escalation followed by a blinded, randomized comparison of INCB024360 and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) versus Yervoy plus placebo in metastatic melanoma patients.

Though Ventana declined to provide details on what other specific cancer therapies in Incyte's pipleline the partners might focus on advancing with a companion test, in the company's statement Ventana President Mara Aspinall said the new partners look forward to pursuing "many successful drug development programs together."

Ventana was unavailable by press time to discuss its strategy for developing companion diagnostic for INCB24360, how such a test would be used within the drug development process, or how it might play into Incyte's plans for eventually gaining FDA approval for the drug.

Roche and Ventana have a strict firewall policy that enables the subsidiary to advance companion tests for Roche's own personalized medicines as well as partner with competitors. According to Ventana, it has worked with more than 45 drug companies over a decade and inked 150 collaborative companion diagnostics projects, most recently a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to identify best responders to undisclosed Boehringer oncology treatments (PGx Reporter 9/25/2013)

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