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Roche Furthers Immunotherapy Program with SP142 Launch

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Roche (RHHBY) announced that Spring Bioscience, a member of the Roche Group, has launched its PD-L1 (SP142) rabbit monoclonal immunohistochemistry (IHC) antibody1.

SP142 was developed for Roche's anti-PD-L1 (MPDL3280A) immunotherapy development program and included in research of various tumor types.

Roche specializes in cancer drugs. Immunotherapy is gaining a lot of interest in the recent times as pharmaceuticals majors focus their R&D efforts on the same.

In May 2014, Roche announced positive results from a phase I study on MPDL3280A.

The results from the study showed that immunotherapy candidate MPDL3280A was effective in shrinking tumors by 43% in treatment experienced patients suffering from metastatic urothelial bladder cancer. These patients had tumors that were characterized as PD-L1 positive by a test being developed by Roche. MPDL3280A was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA.

Roche's Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. also entered into a collaboration agreement with MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca (AZN), in Jun 2014.

Both the companies are jointly developing a PD-L1 (SP263) immunohistochemistry assay to enroll patients in clinical trials for MedImmune's MEDI4736 anti-PD-L1 therapy for non-small cell lung carcinoma. The deal includes the MEDI4736 ATLANTIC trial that will enroll only patients who express PD-L1 as determined by the VENTANA assay.

Roche was in the news recently when it announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire California-based biotechnology company InterMune, Inc. (ITMN) for $74.00 per share or $8.3 billion.

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Allergan (AGN) is a better-ranked stock in the broader healthcare sector with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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