31 January, 2013
Verastem and Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings have entered into a biomarker agreement for cancer stem cell agent VS-6063 companion diagnostic.
Verastem (MA, USA), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, is focused on discovering and developing drugs targeted to the killing of cancer cells to treat all major cancers. Verastem has a focal adhesion kinase inhibitor, VS-6063 in the development pipeline, which is a small molecule inhibitor of focal adhesion kinase, a critical pathway for cancer stem cells.
Research led by founder of Verastem, Robert Weinberg, who is also chair of the scientific advisory board, demonstrated that VS-6063 plays a central role in the tumor-initiating capability of cancer stem cells and ultimate disease progression. In a Phase I study in advanced solid tumours it has shown clinical activity and is set to progress to Phase II studies in mesothelioma and ovarian cancer in 2013.
Verastem has entered into an agreement with Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings (LabCorp®) (NC, USA) to validate biomarkers for VS-6063 in the development of an applicable companion diagnostic. Clinical assay validation is very important for all companion diagnostics entering an FDA approval process and speaking on the company press release, Henri Termeer, lead director of Verastem said, “The identification of patients most likely to benefit from targeted therapy is critical to accelerating the drug development and approval process,”
Following recent research it has been found that mesothelioma tumors lacking Merlin, a tumor suppressor, are particularly sensitive to focal adhesion kinase inhibitors. Dan Paterson, Verastem Vice President and Head of Corporate Development and Diagnostics commented, “LabCorp is the perfect partner to progress our research on Merlin into a companion diagnostic for VS-6063.”
Talking about the agreement, David P. King, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LabCorp has said, “We are pleased to collaborate with Verastem in guiding the clinical development of cancer stem cell-targeted agents,” he then added that, “This relationship represents another example of our accelerating initiatives in companion diagnostics and personalized medicine.”