Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. and Astellas Pharma join forces to leverage novel companion diagnostic tests for targeted cancer treatments

TUCSON, Ariz., April 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. (Ventana), a member of the Roche Group, today announced it has entered into master collaboration agreement with Astellas Pharma Inc., an R&D-driven global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan, to develop novel automated tissue diagnostics in support of therapeutic compounds in development.

FGFRs (Fibroblast growth factor receptors) are receptors that bind growth factors responsible for cell proliferation, growth, structure, movement and shape. In some tumor cells, blocking FGFR activity may be advantageous in stopping tumor growth.

Initial projects related to this agreement will support early-stage clinical trials for the Astellas therapeutic compound ASP5878, a novel small-molecule fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor which has been shown to block the kinase activities of FGFR1, FGFR2, FGFR3 and FGFR4. Ventana will develop, in parallel, an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test identifying FGF19 in certain solid tumors. Financial terms of this agreement were not disclosed.

"We are pleased to expand our relationship with Astellas with this master companion diagnostic agreement, which allows our collaborative projects to quickly move from early stage biomarker hypothesis testing to late stage companion diagnostic development with Astellas' targeted therapies in oncology," said Doug Ward, Vice President, Ventana Companion Diagnostics.

This pharma collaboration is one of several currently underway where the Ventana Companion Diagnostics team is delivering patient stratifying diagnostic tools that help identify those individuals who are most likely to benefit from specific treatments.

Companion diagnostics (CDx) are tests designed to confirm the presence of a specific biomarker to assist physicians in selecting effective therapies for their patients, based on the individual characteristics of each person. Incorporating a companion diagnostic strategy into a drug development program may expedite the drug approval process and help generate more effective treatments with improved safety profiles for patients.

About Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.
Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. ("VMSI") (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), a member of the Roche Group, innovates and manufactures instruments and reagents that automate tissue processing and slide staining for cancer diagnostics. VENTANA products are used in clinical histology and drug development research laboratories worldwide. The company's intuitive, integrated staining, workflow management platforms, and digital pathology solutions optimize laboratory efficiencies to help reduce errors, support diagnosis and enable informed treatment decisions by anatomic pathology professionals. Together with Roche, VMSI is driving Personalized Healthcare through accelerated drug discovery and the development of companion diagnostics to identify the patients most likely to respond favorably to specific therapies.

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VENTANA and the VENTANA logo are trademarks of Roche.

VMSI Media Relations
Jacqueline Bucher
Senior Director, Corporate Communications
Phone: 520-877-7288
e-mail: Jacquie Bucher

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SOURCE Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.