Loxo, Illumina to partner for diagnostic tool targeting cancer

(Reuters) - Drug developer Loxo Oncology said on Tuesday it is partnering with genetic testing company Illumina Inc on a diagnostic tool that will work with Loxo’s larotrectinib and another one of its experimental cancer drugs, across tumor types.

The companies said the partnership will seek approval for a version of Illumina’s test, TruSight Tumor 170, which will allow local laboratories to provide referring physicians with comprehensive genomic information, so that patients can be matched to the most appropriate therapeutic options.

Larotrectinib directly targets an acquired rather than inherited genetic defect called TRK fusions. In such patients, TRK genes abnormally attach to other genes, triggering accelerated cancer cell growth.

Wall Street analysts expect U.S. approval for larotrectinib this year and forecast annual sales of $500 million to $1 billion.

The deal will result in a sequencing-based companion diagnostic with a pan-cancer indication, the companies said.

A companion diagnostic is a medical device that provides information essential for the safe and effective use of a corresponding drug or biological product.

Up to 5,000 U.S. patients a year are diagnosed with the TRK defect. Comprehensive genetic testing can detect TRK fusion and more specific tests are being developed.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber