Two of the most impactful biotech companies in Delaware are now partnering on the future of cancer treatments.
Incyte, a global oncology company with a headquarters in Wilmington, and Agilent, a California-based global diagnostics firm with a large Delaware presence, will collaborate on companion diagnostics (CDx) development programs.
Companion diagnostics is a test that uses prescreening to create a group of patients with the highest possible response rate to targeted therapies while screening out patients who are likely to react negatively to the treatment.
Agilent has long played a role in companion diagnostics: 25 years ago, Dako, which Hewlettt-Packard spinoff Agilent acquired in 2012, got approval for the HercepTest for breast cancer patients in partnership with a company called Genentech.
“Ultimately, this kicked off the world of companion diagnostics,” said Paul Beresford, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Companion Diagnostics Division. Dako will be used for companion diagnostics with Incyte.
“Typically a pharma will come to us with one particular program, and that’s the case with Incyte,” said Beresford. “We put a partnership in place that will help them across our whole portfolio, so as their drugs mature through their development, we have the infrastructure in place contractually and relationship-wise to then catch those opportunities.”
In short, they can offer newly-developed diagnostic tools to be used as part of Incyte’s development of oncology treatments so that they’re used on patients most likely to benefit from it.
The partnership shines a spotlight on one of the big Delaware technology stories of the last year: The state is coming into its own as a major part of the Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub, one of several regional ecosystems identified by the Economic Development Administration’s Tech Hubs program.
“These sort of hubs of innovation bring together companies that have a common purpose,” Beresford said. “If you think of Boston’s, San Diego’s and now, potentially, Delaware’s biotech communities, it’s a critical mass where you get companies like Agilent and Incyte coming together.”
Collaboration plays a big part in any tech ecosystem, Beresford said, and co-development is a good example of that.
“Definitely an important part of ecosystems, as they form across the country, is that they bring these types of companies together, and that ultimately benefits medicine,” he said. “You bring the best companies or people together, and ultimately it ends up resulting in some incredible developments.”
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