Pharma and diagnostics partner for HIV and cancer care

 Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics has partnered with two pharmaceutical companies, ViiV Healthcare and Tocagen, to develop diagnostic tests alongside targeted drugs for HIV and cerebral cancer.

As ViiV Healthcare is a joint venture of Pfizer and GSK focused on HIV treatment, the partnership represents a collaboration of leading pharma and medtech companies.

It also signals major company investment in ‘stratified medicine’, where drugs targeting narrow patient groups are developed alongside ‘companion diagnostics’ to identify suitable patients.

Siemens CEO Michael Reitermann said the new projects would “align Siemens with new classes of therapies tailored to the individual”.

ViiV Healthcare will partner with Siemens for clinical trials of its first-in-class CCR5 co-receptor antagonist Celsentri (maraviroc) and investigate the commercial prospects of a diagnostic test to assist in patient selection.

Celsentri was licensed in 2007 in Europe and the US as a treatment for CCR5-tropic HIV. It is currently in a phase III study to establish its efficacy in combination with darunavir/ritonavir.

The planned trials will put the combination head-to-head with the combination of Gilead’s Truvada and darunavir/ritonavir.

US company Tocagen will partner with Siemens to produce diagnostic tests to support clinical trials of Tocagen’s viral gene therapy Toca in two forms, injectable Toca 511 and extended-release Toca FC tablets, in treating primary brain cancer.

For diagnostics companies such as Siemens, gaining access to the companion diagnostics market – which is already worth $1.5bn – depends on collaboration with pharma companies.