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Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. to Collaborate with Bayer on Companion Diagnostic Test for New Biological Cancer Therapy

TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. (Ventana), a member of the Roche Group, today announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Bayer Pharma AG (Bayer) to develop a molecular companion diagnostic test intended to identify patients most likely to benefit from a novel Bayer antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). Ventana's diagnostic immunohistochemistry platform aims to analyze the expression level of certain tumor targets serving as biomarkers in clinical studies for patient selection. This will support the development of novel products in the field of oncology therapy and underscores Roche's commitment to personalized healthcare.  This news comes on the heels of two separate companion diagnostic strategic collaborative agreements Ventana recently announced with Pfizer Inc. and Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Under the terms of the Bayer agreement, Ventana will initially develop, manufacture and commercialize a companion diagnostic test for one of Bayer's ADCs. Over a period of five years, both parties may initiate further development projects to develop molecular diagnostic tests in support of additional targeted cancer therapy drugs. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"At Ventana our mission is to improve the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer," said Mara G. Aspinall, President of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.  "We are pleased to be Bayer's partner of choice to facilitate the worldwide development of this ADC.  As new biomarkers and diagnostic tests become increasingly available, they provide valuable information about potential positive recipients for these novel agents. Translating excellence in science into effective, targeted treatments for patients is at the core of Roche's scientific vision for 'Personalised Healthcare' (PHC), and it is our highest priority now and into the future."

"We are very excited to partner with Ventana to develop a companion diagnostic for one of our ADC projects," said Prof. Dr. Andreas Busch, Head of Global Drug Discovery and Member of the Executive Committee of Bayer HealthCare.  "This constitutes another step for Bayer towards personalized medicine in cancer treatment as the selection of patients most likely to benefit from an ADC will increase the overall probability of therapeutic success for patients suffering from cancer."

About Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)
Antibody conjugation to potent cytotoxic drugs is a promising way to increase efficacy and reduce systemic toxicity of drugs by targeting them selectively to tumor tissue.  The antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are comprised of three distinctive features: an antibody, a cytotoxic drug (toxophore) and a linker, which give ADCs their characteristic properties.  The monoclonal antibody is able to recognize surface proteins selectively over-expressed on cancer cells.  This targeting ability allows the ADCs to deliver its cytotoxic payload, the toxophore, right into the tumor.  Here, after internalization and release, the toxophore interferes with intracellular processes leading to the programmed death of the tumor cells.  The linkers are designed to keep the toxic agent attached to the antibody until the target cancer cell is reached.  The targeted nature of ADCs to specific tumor surface proteins or antigens make them good candidates for co-development with the VENTANA immunohistochemistry-based companion diagnostic assays that measure those antigens.

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 solutions 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 reduce errors, support diagnosis and inform treatment decisions for anatomic pathology professionals. Together with Roche, VMSI is driving personalized medicine through accelerated drug discovery and the development of "companion diagnostics" to identify the patients most likely to respond favorably to specific therapies. Visit to learn more.

VENTANA and the VENTANA logo are trademarks of Roche.

SOURCE Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.
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