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Abbott to collaborate with J&J on leukemia test

Updated: April 15, 2013 7:00AM

Abbott Laboratories will collaborate with Johnson & Johnson to see whether Abbott’s genetic diagnostic technology can be used to develop a companion diagnostic test to identify patients who would benefit from a treatment for the most common form of adult leukemia.

Under the agreement, North Chicago-based Abbott will develop a genetic test to identify high-risk patients who may respond to ibrutinib, a drug in development by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech Inc. and Pharmacyclics Inc. for several cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

“Like Abbott’s other collaborations in the area of companion diagnostics, our goal is to leverage molecular technologies to help ensure that the right medicine is getting to the right person,” John Coulter, vice president of Molecular Diagnostics at Abbott said in a statement. “Cancer is a complex disease where, historically, therapies have demonstrated only a 25 percent efficacy rate. Companion diagnostic tests can help improve these outcomes by selecting patients that are more likely to respond to specific therapies, reducing time to the most effective treatment and increasing the number of positive outcomes.”

Abbott received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for its diagnostic kit, called the Vysis CLL FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) Probe Kit. The kit targets multiple genes and is used as an aid for determining prognosis for patients with CLL. It detects genetic abnormalities in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections. In patients with CLL, abnormal lymphocytes are produced. Those abnormal cells can weaken the body’s immune system because they build up in the circulatory system and interfere with normal cell functions.

Contributing: AP

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