Bayer has linked up with Prometheus Laboratories which will see the US firm develop diagnostic tools and personalise treatments in the former’s oncology pipeline.

Under the terms of the non-exclusive agreement, Prometheus will receive upfront and milestone payments worth up to $160 million if all drug candidates are successfully developed and obtain regulatory approval. Andreas Busch, head of drug discovery at Bayer Schering Pharma, said that using Prometheus' oncology diagnostic platform “could allow for a comprehensive analysis of the tumour, patient stratification and efficacy predictability of individual targeted cancer therapeutics as well as most effective treatment combinations”.

He added that developing such a diagnostic tool “constitutes a significant step towards personalised medicine in cancer treatment and we are convinced this will increasingly become the standard of clinical care in oncology”. Prometheus chief executive Joseph Limber added that his firm’s technology will help Bayer to select the patients who will benefit the most from specific candidates and design more efficient clinical trials. This approach should “increase the probability of success and ultimately to improve the potential outcome for patients”, he said.

Prometheus says its diagnostics can measure the expression and activation of specific cancer pathways “with high levels of sensitivity and specificity via tissue or blood sample”. It is useful not only at the development stage but also in the clinical setting “to enable real-time molecular profiling, monitor drug effectiveness and direct the use of a growing number of targeted therapies”.