AstraZeneca announced that it has entered into a collaboration with Netherlands-based QIAGEN to develop a non-invasive diagnostic test to identify non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who are suitable for treatment with Iressa.
Iressa is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks the signals from the EGFR, which leads to tumor growth. EGFR is a protein found in abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of cancer cells, particularly non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Using QIAGEN’s diagnostic test, doctors will be able to identify patients with the EGFR mutation, and therefore who might benefit most from treatment with Iressa, through a blood test. Currently the main method of assessing EGFR mutation status involves the collection of tumor tissue by needle biopsy or during resection.
QIAGEN’s test uses a highly sensitive assay to detect EGFR mutations in the small fragments of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in plasma taken from patients’ blood samples. The test has demonstrated robust and reliable identification of EGFR mutation status using samples from the Phase IV Iressa Follow Up Measure (IFUM) study.
This collaboration is part of a long standing relationship between AstraZeneca and QIAGEN. The two companies are seeking approval from the European Medicines Agency for the ctDNA test, as a companion diagnostic for Iressa.
Mondher Mahjoubi, senior vice president, global product strategy for oncology at AstraZeneca, said: “By combining AstraZeneca’s expertise in lung cancer with QIAGEN’s diagnostic capabilities, we have the potential to transform the way specific tumor types are identified and treated. The use of circulating tumor DNA testing will allow doctors to target the individual needs of each patient quickly and accurately.”