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Grail, AstraZeneca Partner on Companion Dx for Oncology Drugs

NEW YORK — Grail said on Thursday that it will collaborate with AstraZeneca to develop and commercialize companion diagnostics for the pharmaceutical company's therapies.

According to Menlo Park, California-based Grail, the partners will focus first on developing companion diagnostics to identify cancer patients with high-risk, early-stage disease. Grail and AstraZeneca intend to undertake multiple studies covering diverse indications in coming years. AstraZeneca will also use Grail's technology to better recruit patients with early-stage cancer for clinical studies.

Susan Galbraith, executive VP of oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, said that by combining Grail's methylation profiling platform with its own expertise, the Cambridge, UK-based pharma aims to "accelerate the adoption of circulating tumor DNA across clinical trials" and to make its therapies "available at an earlier stage of disease when there is greater potential to transform patient outcomes, and even cure."

Harpal Kumar, president of the biopharma business and Europe at Grail, said the Illumina subsidiary aims to provide information to improve the identification of patients who may be eligible for clinical trials and "change clinical paradigms for the treatment of early-stage cancers."

The company added that it will seek regulatory approval for liquid biopsy companion diagnostics in key markets as part of the collaboration.

This is the second companion diagnostics deal for AstraZeneca in recent weeks. In April, Chinese diagnostics firm Amoy Diagnostics announced that it is providing companion diagnostic assays to AstraZeneca with initial projects focused on prostate and breast cancer therapies.