NEW YORK – NeoGenomics said Friday that it has partnered with ImmunoGen to launch a biomarker testing program for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer, identifying patients whose tumors express the folate receptor alpha (FRα) protein.
FRα is the target of ImmunoGen's antibody-drug conjugate Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx), which was recently granted accelerated approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Under the new testing program, ImmunoGen will cover the cost for eligible patients to have their tumor samples tested by NeoGenomics using Roche's Ventana FOLR1 (FOLR1-2.1) RxDx Assay, the drug's FDA-approved companion diagnostic test.
According to NeoGenomics, FRα is rarely expressed in normal tissue but is often elevated in solid cancer tumors. The company estimated that among the approximately 19,880 ovarian cancers diagnosed this year, nearly 90 percent would be expected to express FRα.
The Roche companion diagnostic uses a cutoff point of 75 percent or more tumor cells staining to define high expression of FRα. Under this definition, NeoGenomics estimated that approximately 35 percent of tested patients are likely to be eligible for treatment with Elahere.
"Biomarker testing is an integral component of personalized medicine, especially for patients with ovarian cancer as it can support oncologists and their patients in making more informed decisions about treatment approaches," NeoGenomics Chief Medical Officer Derek Lyle said in a statement. "Sponsored programs … are an innovative and efficient way to ensure patients are getting the right test to help them receive the right treatment at the right time, particularly innovative targeted therapies that have been shown to improve patient outcomes."
"Despite the vital information that biomarker testing provides, many cancer patients still do not undergo evaluation due to a lack of awareness, access, and reimbursement," added ImmunoGen CEO Mark Enyedy. By covering the costs of testing, the pharma firm hopes to break down these barriers, he said.