Pharma Focus Europe

QIAGEN and Neuron23 Partner to Develop Next-Generation Sequencing Companion Diagnostic for Novel Parkinson’s Disease Drug

Thursday, September 15, 2022

QIAGEN and Neuron23 Inc., an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases, today announced the signing of an agreement to develop a companion diagnostic for Neuron23’s brain penetrant leucine-rich repeat kinase (LRRK2) inhibitor for Parkinson’s disease.

Under the new Master Collaboration Agreement, QIAGEN will develop and validate a clinical trial assay that will detect a combination of biomarkers discovered by Neuron23 that together predict the responsiveness of Parkinson’s disease to a LRRK2 inhibitor. The partnership will support the clinical development of Neuron23’s drug candidate that is currently in the late stages of preclinical development. Subject to further clinical development, the agreement also covers options for the future development of additional companion diagnostics.

Neuron23 joins a group of more than 25 leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who have reached master collaboration agreements with QIAGEN to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic tests for their drug candidates – a deep pipeline of potential future products to advance precision medicine for the benefit of patients around the world.

The assay for this collaboration will be integrated into a next-generation sequencing (NGS) workflow that leverages QIAGEN’s Sample to Insight capabilities, including instrumentation, IVD sample preparation, library preparation and bioinformatics. The workflow is planned to be developed using the NextSeqTM 500 System as part of the NGS strategic collaboration between QIAGEN and Illumina. Based on Neuron23’s artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platform, it will target a complex signature of 50 single nucleic polymorphisms (SNPs) for U.S. and European populations and eventually additional SNPs that are prevalent in Asian populations.

“The collaboration with Neuron23 shows the rapid momentum precision medicine is gaining in disease areas outside oncology,” said Jonathan Arnold, Vice President, Head of Oncology and Precision Diagnostics, at QIAGEN. “Our expertise in blood- and NGS-based molecular testing from Sample to Insight will enable Neuron23 to run a clinical trial for a drug candidate that may have the potential to modify the course of an inexorable neurodegenerative disease in a genetically defined population.”

“This collaboration combines the leading expertise of Neuron23 in drug discovery, data science, and machine learning with QIAGEN’s long-standing experience and global leadership in companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN’s blood-based test will help to identify patients with Parkinson’s disease who are likely to respond to Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor. The development of a companion diagnostic identifying this sub-population of Parkinson’s disease patients will de-risk the clinical development of Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor and help identify individuals who may benefit from this disease-modifying therapy. We are excited to be working with an industry leader on the first companion diagnostic developed for Parkinson’s disease,” said Nancy Stagliano, Ph.D., CEO of Neuron23.

No laboratory tests are currently available for the diagnosis of non-genetic cases for Parkinson’s disease. Usually, the disease is diagnosed based on medical history and neurological examination. Although no cure currently exists for Parkinson’s disease, therapies are used to alleviate some symptoms.

LRRK2 is a complex, multidomain protein found in neurons and many tissues and cell types throughout the body. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are one of the most common causes of familial Parkinson’s disease and individuals who inherit gain of function mutations in LRRK2 are clearly at higher risk to develop the disease in later life. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that LRRK2 may play a role in a subset of the larger population of patients with non-familial Parkinson’s disease. Recent investigations have shown that small-molecule LRRK2 inhibitors can be neuroprotective, suggesting that therapies targeting LRRK2 could be beneficial in a larger population of patients.

QIAGEN is a pioneer in precision medicine and the global leader in collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to co-develop companion diagnostics, which detect clinically relevant genetic abnormalities to provide insights that guide clinical decision-making in diseases such as cancer. QIAGEN has an unmatched depth and breadth of technologies from NGS to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and digital PCR (dPCR) for companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN has ten PCR based companion diagnostic indications that are FDA approved, including therascreen EGFR for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), therascreen KRAS for colorectal cancer and NSCLC, therascreen FGFR for urothelial cancer, therascreen PIK3CA for breast cancer based on tissue or plasma samples and the therascreen BRAF kit for colorectal cancer.

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