French groups bioMerieux and Ipsen have signed a pact under which the former will develop a “companion test” to determine suitable patients for a new breast cancer drug being assessed by the latter in early-stage clinical trials.

Ipsen is currently testing a novel breast cancer therapy, BN 83495, which works by blocking the steroid sulfatase enzyme - a marker found in hormone-dependent breast cancer in postmenopausal women - in Phase I studies. Under the terms of the deal, both groups will fund bioMerieux’ development of a companion assay, which is intended for both the clinical development of BN 83495 as well as a diagnostic test potentially for future commercialisation, the groups said.

Commenting on the move, Stephane Bancel, chief executive of bioMerieux, said that his company is “very pleased…to bring a high medical value test to help advance cancer treatment options and improve patient prognosis,” adding: “By teaming our expertise with that of biopharmaceutical companies, bioMerieux’ goal is to contribute towards making the best medicine available to the right patients, while optimising health costs.”

And Jean-Luc Belingard, chief executive of Ipsen, was equally positive about the partnership: “This innovative collaboration with bioMerieux is designed to help Ipsen accelerate the time-to-market of its potent steroid sulphatase inhibitor compound BN 83495, bringing, as soon as possible, its therapeutic benefits to those breast cancer patients showing potentially responsive clinical profiles.”

Further details about the partnership were not revealed.