Roche said on Monday the European Union approved Zelboraf, which represents a new treatment option for patients with the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The go-ahead, expected by investors after Roche flagged it as recently as December, follows one in the United States last August.

The new drug is given as a twice-daily pill and is designed to be used alongside a companion diagnostic test, also from Roche, that identifies which patients have a specific genetic mutation that means they will benefit from the treatment.

The gene sequencing technology, which Roche is targeting with a bid for San Diego-based Illumina , is central to medicine's future as it allows researchers to better predict how patients will respond to a drug.

Coupled with strong study results from experimental breast cancer treatment pertuzumab, Zelboraf underscores Roche's commitment to targeted medicines.

(Reporting by Katharina Bart; Editing by Mike Nesbit)