Biocartis has announced a partnership with medical research charity MRC Technology (MRCT) to develop selected molecular diagnostic tests for use on Biocartis' fully automated Idylla platform. MRCT aims to move promising medical research forward into patient treatments and diagnostics and has been involved in helping deliver a number of therapies including Keytruda, an important immunotherapy treatment for various cancers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Biocartis and MRCT will jointly develop selected molecular diagnostic tests for use on the fully automated Idylla platform. For each selected test, MRCT will act as a development contractor, whereas Biocartis will be responsible for the commercialization of the tests under its own label. Financial details of the partnership are not disclosed.
The first test to be developed under the partnership is a liquid biopsy test aimed at monitoring of metastatic breast cancer patients for resistance to hormone therapy. This is an important first step in the breast cancer menu that Biocartis is developing, and has a clear strategic fit within the company's focus on liquid biopsy testing.
According to the World Health Organization, one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This makes it the most common cancer among women worldwide but early diagnosis can improve the survival rate. Consequently, breast cancer is currently the largest cancer diagnostics market in the world, expected to account for USD 13.1bn by 2020. As such, it represents an important segment for Biocartis to enter, next to its current focus on melanoma, lung and colorectal cancer.
Erwin Sablon, Head of R&D and Alliance Management at Biocartis, commented: "Building partnerships with third parties to accelerate the expansion of our menu of molecular diagnostic tests is a key element in our strategy. We are very pleased to be partnering with MRCT, an organization that has clearly shown the ability to convert promising medical research into solutions for patients. MRCT has an experienced team in place and we are confident that together we can successfully develop a range of high quality tests for the Idylla platform, beginning with this first test for breast cancer."
Michael A. Dalrymple, PhD, MBA, Director, Diagnostics & Science Foresight MRCT, reacted: "We are excited to partner with Biocartis on test development for the Idylla platform, which we believe can impact the way molecular diagnostics for oncology is done today. This resonates well with our focus of translating medical innovation into viable and accessible treatments and diagnostics that patients can benefit from. Breast cancer has an enormous impact on many lives every day and we see this assay as an important project to start our partnership with."
Within its melanoma and colorectal cancer menu, Biocartis already launched three liquid biopsy assays (available for research use only), detecting a large set of actionable mutations directly from 1 ml of blood plasma each. The fourth liquid biopsy assay, the Idylla ctEGFR Mutation Assay, adding to Biocartis' lung cancer test menu, is expected to be launched in H2 2017.