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Amgen enters into deals for colon cancer, IBD treatments

By   /   Friday, January 17th, 2014  /   Comments Off

Thousand Oaks-based Amgen has entered into two new collaborations, one involving treatment for colon cancer and another regarding therapies for inflammatory bowel disease.

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Amgen's corporate headquarters in Thousand Oaks (Amgen courtesy photo)

Amgen’s corporate headquarters in Thousand Oaks (Amgen courtesy photo)

 

Thousand Oaks-based Amgen has entered into two new collaborations, one involving treatment for colon cancer and another regarding therapies for inflammatory bowel disease.

The biotech company is partnering with Illumina, a maker of genetic testing equipment headquartered in San Diego, to develop a test to identify patients who might benefit from Amgen’s colon cancer drug Vectibix, Illumina announced Wednesday.

Vectibix is used to treat colon cancer that has progressed after treatment with other chemotherapy. It is intended for patients with a less aggressive form of the cancer, not for those with a genetic mutation that is associated with more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates. Amgen and Illumina are pursing a test that will determine whether patients have that mutation, using Illumina’s MiSeqDx sequencing system.

“This collaboration is consistent with our strategy to bring the power of NGS [next-generation sequencing] to clinical diagnostics,” Nick Naclerio, senior vice president of corporate and venture development at Illumina, said in a statement.

On another front, Amgen is partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute to develop therapies for inflammatory bowel disease, Amgen announced Wednesday.

The collaboration brings together scientists with expertise in clinical medicine, IBD biology, human genetics, genomic technology and drug discovery to work together to help create therapeutic options for patients with IBD, a chronic disorder that affects millions worldwide.

“Current IBD treatment options are limited,” Sean E. Harper, executive vice president of research and development at Amgen, said in a statement. “We believe this collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute will help identify improved treatment options for these patients.”

IBD is known to run in families, indicating that genes play a significant role in the development and progression of disease. Until recently, almost nothing was known about the specific genes that predispose — or protect — someone from developing the disorder. Scientists have now pinpointed more than 150 regions of the genome — up from just two a decade ago — that place a person at risk. Despite the recent progress in understanding the biology of IBD, there remains a critical need for treatments. Current therapies are not always effective and can cause significant side effects in some patients.

The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded in 2003 to empower scientists to transform medicine with new genome-based knowledge.

Shares of Amgen were up 10 cents to $119.13 on the Nasdaq at 1:50 p.m. in New York.

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