News & Trends - Medical Technology

Illumina diagnostics reveals oncology partnerships with Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck

Health Industry Hub | January 13, 2021 |
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MedTech News: With genetic sequencing at the forefront of precision medicine, Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, announced a portfolio of new and expanded oncology partnerships that further the diagnostic company’s commitment to develop standardised, globally distributable tools for precision oncology.

Speaking at the 39th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, California, Illumina CEO, Francis de Souza, announced a series of oncology partnerships that aim to expand the reach of its powerhouse comprehensive genomic profiling family of products, TruSight™ Oncology, including TSO500.

“Cancer is a disease of the genome and treatment will increasingly leverage next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests, from early detection and diagnoses, to therapy selection and monitoring,” said deSouza. “The continued expansion of our TruSight Oncology pipeline complements our planned acquisition of multi-cancer early detection company GRAIL.”

Illumina is leveraging the content of its TSO 500 assay that is expected to be launched in both the U.S. and Europe later this year, to develop companion diagnostics (CDx). Pursuing CDx partnerships would be important for getting reimbursement for the tests, once available.

The following partnerships demonstrate Illumina’s commitment to collaborating with industry leaders on cancer diagnostics and the advancement of precision oncology:

BRISTOL MYERS SQUIBB: Expanding on a collaboration that began in 2018, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) will develop a microsatellite instability CDx, as well as develop a diagnostic based on the content of TruSight Oncology 500 ctDNA, Illumina’s first liquid biopsy assay. Both program expansions are planned for global use by Bristol Myers Squibb’s portfolio of cancer therapeutics.

MERCK: Illumina and Merck are conducting a study focused on the expanded TruSight Oncology homologous recombination repair deficiency (HRD) offering.

“Illumina remains committed to innovating and diversifying our oncology product portfolio and partnerships. Together we can help rapidly deliver actionable insights to patients and physicians, by removing the empiric nature of therapy selection,” said Joydeep Goswami, Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development at Illumina. “With sequencing at the forefront of precision medicine, we are inspired by the opportunity that lies ahead with not just these partnerships, but others to come.”

According to a recent publication, some authors have expressed a conservative approach towards generalized NGS testing, and have suggested that currently NGS may be mainly useful in controlled research environments or clinical trials, where off-label administration of expensive drugs is restricted to prospective patient registry cohorts.

Considering that only a minority of patients with cancer derive a clear benefit for matched treatments, they support that NGS for precision oncology based on emerging biomarkers remain an investigational strategy.

In contrast, other authors advocate that routine upfront NGS testing should be used for all patients with metastatic cancer with limited standard of care options.

In addition, the use of multiplatform technologies seems to identify a higher number of potential targets than conventional consecutive molecular testing and this might subsequently translate in a higher probability to detect an effective matching drug.

Furthermore, NGS testing may identify “hypermutations” or DNA damage repair signatures that can predict a response to immunotherapy, that otherwise would not be detected.


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