On Sept. 16, Qiagen announced that it has signed a new collaboration with precision medicine firm Neuron23. The San Francisco-based company is in the process of developing a small-molecule drug to inhibit the leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene, mutations of which have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. The drug is still in the late stages of preclinical development, but Neuron23 is already looking ahead to its potential use in clinical settings. So, it’s asking the genetic test firm to develop a blood-based next generation sequencing (NGS) assay to identify individuals who may be candidates for the treatment.
On one level, the deal isn’t surprising. After all, the Hilden, Germany-based developer of NGS-based CDx assays has become a prime partner for companion diagnostics (CDx) development, having inked master collaboration agreements with more than 25 pharma and biotech companies. But all of those deals have been in the cancer space. For the first time, Qiagen is extending its genetic testing profile beyond oncology to neurology biomarkers.
NGS Project Specifics
Specifically, Qiagen will develop and validate an NGS assay to detect a 50 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) biomarker discovered by Neuron23 to predict how Parkinson’s patients will respond to LRRK2 inhibitor treatment. The assay will run on Illumina’s NextSeq 500 System under Qiagen’s existing collaboration with Illumina.
Qiagen and Neuron23 have also agreed to keep working together to develop other CDx tests in the future. The up-and-coming biotech has essentially secured Qiagen as its partner for developing companion tests for its future drug products, whatever those may be. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
The move into neurology makes sense. Driven by the growing incidences of severe neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, stroke, and brain tumors, as well as depression, autism, dementia, and other disorders, the global neurological biomarkers market is projected to exhibit compound annual growth rates of 12.47 percent over the next four years—an estimated $6.0 billion. Key companies in the space include Abbott Laboratories, Myriad, Alseres Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AbaStar MDx, Inc., Diagenic ASA, Proteome Sciences, Psynova Neurotech, Athena Diagnostics, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Banyan Biomarkers, Inc., Immunarray Pvt. Ltd., Quanterix, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Get more insight on this and other major recent diagnostic industry partnerships in the October 2022 issue of Lab Industry Report.