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QIAGEN, Eli Lilly Expand Partnership

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QIAGEN NV (QGEN) forged an agreement with the pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) to develop and market a molecular companion diagnostic paired with a unique Lilly oncology compound. This marks the third co-development project by QIAGEN and Lilly in the area of companion diagnostics.

The field of companion diagnostics comprises biological methods (mostly tests) designed to assess whether a patient positively responds to a specific medical treatment. Such tests use the genomic information available in patient samples, which equip healthcare professionals to take decisions regarding treatment processes. Analysis of biological and clinical information facilitates better decision-making about the development and use of a potential drug therapy.

According to recent studies, it has been found out that oncology is one of the most potent areas in Companion Diagnostics. Some reputed pharmaceutical companies involved in this field include the likes of Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) and Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) among others.

The recent collaboration entails Eli Lilly to work on an undisclosed compound while QIAGEN is expected to formulate an undisclosed molecular diagnostic target. The aim of the collaboration is to develop customized therapies built essentially for the treatment of cancer.

The partnership between the two companies started in Sep 2011 when Qiagen and Lilly started working jointly on a companion diagnostic test to evaluate the Janus kinase 2 gene, which plays a key role in some blood cancers. The test, accompanied by a Lilly compound, is expected to help in identifying at-risk patients who might benefit from a proposed cancer drug. 

The therascreen KRAS RGQ PCR Kit from QIAGEN received the U.S. FDA approval in Jul 2012. It is a genetic test designed to detect gene mutations in metastatic colorectal cancer patients and target patients, who can be potentially treated with the drug Erbitux. The therascreen is highly popular in laboratories worldwide.

QIAGEN remains the foremost choice for big pharmaceutical companies as the company offers the broadest portfolio of companion diagnostic tools, including the therascreen EGFR and KRAS kits in Japan, and over 15 CE-marked assays for personalized healthcare applications in Europe.

Currently, more than 15 projects with pharmaceutical and biotech companies are in the pipeline for QIAGEN in the area of companion diagnostics. This is in conformity of the company’s vision to enhance overall health for people by providing competent healthcare solutions to its customers.

Currently, the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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