The U.S. FDA approved the cobas EGFR Mutation Test v2, a blood-based companion diagnostic for the cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib). This is the first FDA-approved, blood-based genetic test that can detect epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations in non-small cell lung cancer patients. Such mutations are present in approximately 10-20 percent of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC).
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women in the U.S. and, though more common in men, the number of deaths from lung cancer in women is increasing. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 221,200 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 158,040 will die from the disease this year. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. NSCLC tumors may shed tumor DNA into a patient’s blood, making it possible to detect specific mutations in blood samples. Testing for tumor DNA using a blood sample is also called a “liquid biopsy.” Approvals of liquid biopsy tests make it possible to deliver highly individualized health care for patients.
The cobas EGFR Mutation Test v2 is manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems in Pleasanton, California. Tarceva is manufactured by Astellas Pharma Technologies, Inc. of Norman, Oklahoma and distributed by Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, California.