BioPharma, Diagnostics

Veracyte partners with J&J on development of lung cancer test

The deal, with J&J Innovation and the drugmaker’s lung cancer initiative, includes a $5 million upfront payment and up to $15 million in milestones.

A diagnostics company is partnering with one of the world’s largest drugmakers to accelerate development of its noninvasive test for the early detection of lung cancer.

South San Francisco, California-based Veracyte said Thursday that it had partnered with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the Lung Cancer Initiative at J&J to accelerate development and commercialization of a test it is developing to detect early-stage lung cancer via a nasal swab. The test, Percepta Field of Injury Nose, is currently in discovery, according to Veracyte’s pipeline page.

The test is being developed according to “field of injury” science, where genomic changes associated with lung cancer can be identified by brushing the airways. J&J will pay $5 million upfront and up to $15 million in development and reimbursement milestones.

Under the agreement, the two companies will combine clinical study cohorts of more than 5,000 patients with multiple years of clinical outcome data. This includes bronchial and nasal samples from Veracyte’s clinical trials. The company will also employ RNA whole-transcriptome sequencing, including the use of high-dimensional data and machine learning pipelines on the data. The Lung Cancer Initiative at J&J will have access to the genomic data that are provided.

In a phone interview, Veracyte CEO Bonnie Anderson said the company expects to have early data in 2019. “We’re going to be able to tap 5,000 patients that have been enrolled and followed up clinically, some of them up to 10 years – other cohorts to a lesser degree – but starting with a significant foundation that can accelerate our discovery work to happen almost as fast as we can do that work, without having to wait two to three years to get followup,” she said. The company has not given a definitive time frame for the study or commercialization of the test, she said, but added that it will be a few years.

In addition to the development of the nasal swab test, Veracyte said the commercialization of the Percepta classifier on its RNA whole-transcriptome sequencing platform in lung cancer would also be accelerated through the collaboration, with an expected launch in the first half of this year.

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