Qiagen and Neuron23 have entered an agreement for the development of next-generation sequencing (NGS) companion diagnostic (CDx) for the latter’s brain penetrant leucine-rich repeat kinase (LRRK2) inhibitor for treating Parkinson’s disease.

Under the terms of the deal, Qiagen will be responsible for the development and validation of a clinical trial assay that will identify the biomarkers’ combination found by Neuron23 to check the response of Parkinson’s disease to the LRRK2 inhibitor.

The alliance between the companies will also support the clinical development of Neuron23’s drug candidate, which is now in the late phases of preclinical development.

Furthermore, the deal includes an option to develop additional companion diagnostics, subject to further clinical development.

Qiagen stated that the assay will be integrated into an NGS workflow that will use the company’s Sample to Insight capabilities. These include in vitro diagnostics (IVD) sample preparation, bioinformatics, instrumentation and library preparation.

As part of the strategic NGS partnership between Qiagen and Illumina, the NextSeq™ 500 System will be used to create the workflow.

Based on Neuron23’s drug discovery and biomarker platform, which is enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), it aims to target 50 single nucleic polymorphisms (SNPs) for US and European populations.

Eventually, it will target additional SNPs that are more common in Asian populations.

Qiagen Oncology and Precision Diagnostics head and vice-president Jonathan Arnold said: “The collaboration with Neuron23 shows the rapid momentum precision medicine is gaining in disease areas outside oncology.

“Our expertise in blood- and NGS-based molecular testing from Sample to Insight will enable Neuron23 to run a clinical trial for a drug candidate that may have the potential to modify the course of an inexorable neurodegenerative disease in a genetically defined population.”

The company stated that there are no existing laboratory tests available for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease in non-genetic cases.

Instead, medical history and neurological exams are used to diagnose the disease.