Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 20 of 47 January/February 2017 Clinical OMICs 19 GeneCentric Nabs Biomarker Research Deal for BMS Drug Opdivo Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and GeneCentric Diagnostics have commenced a biomarker research collaboration to explore whether the application of GeneCentric's Cancer Subtype Platform (CSP) can identify translational biomark- ers for Opdivo (nivolumab), in order to potentially inform the creation and design of future clinical trials. Under the terms of the collaboration, GeneCentric also received an undisclosed investment from BMS to support the clinical development of GeneCentric's CSP, and to per- mit a build-out of GeneCentric's new laboratory in Research Triangle Park, NC. "GeneCentric's innovative approach to cancer biomark- ers offers an opportunity to accelerate translational and exploratory biomarker research, with the potential to opti- mize assays that can better inform decisions about patient care and treatments," says Fouad Namouni, M.D., head of development, oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb. The deal with BMS will leverage CSP, GeneCentric's pro- prietary core technology, which identifies biologic subtypes of cancer through an integrated analysis of tumor genomics. According to Myla Lai-Goldman, M.D., CEO of GeneCen- tric, the opportunity with BMS arose for a couple of differ- ent reasons. First, the company, which had been working since its founding in 2011 to develop its subtyping assays, turned its attention to applying its method to immunotherapy to bet- ter understand the potential differences of the subtypes and immune signatures and other immune markers. Second, its founders and directors at the company—notably Arnold Levine, Ph.D., the first to discover the p53 tumor suppres- sor gene; and Charles Perou, Ph.D., noted for his work with Prosigna on the NanoString platform—had deep ties and connections in the pharmaceutical world. "There have been many challenges with PDL-1 immu- nohistochemistry testing," notes Dr. Lai-Goldman. "We thought we had something novel and a new approach. With the relationships that were established, we were able to make the introduction to present the work we do, which led to their interest in working with us." While the opportunity to work with a pharmaceutical company on one of its major products is a feather in the cap for GeneCentric, the equity investment made by BMS is equally important, as it will allow the company to expand its approach and to build out a new laboratory. The initial focus of the company has been on lung cancer, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. With the investment, it is now turning its eyes toward other tumor types. In addition, Dr. Lai-Goldman notes the company has, until now, used frozen and FFPE samples, but the CSP technol- ogy may also be applicable in liquid biopsy applications. —Chris Anderson Celmatix Introduces Women's Reproductive Health Genetic Test Women's health company Celmatix, reported in January the launch of Fertilome, a first-of-its-kind genetic screen that reveals how a woman's DNA may influence her reproductive health. The test culminates nearly eight years of research focused on the genetic factors associated with the most common reproductive conditions that can lead to fertility difficulties in women, includ- ing endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and primary ovarian insufficiency—a precursor to early menopause. "Over the last decade we have seen how genetic information has transformed the cancer field," notes Piraye Yurttas Beim, Ph.D., Celmatix founder and CEO. "Providing individuals with deeper insight into their health through genetics has impacted lifestyle choices, prevention, and treatment decisions. Celmatix was founded to bring the same kind of transformational change to the field of reproductive medicine. Women can now make potentially life-defining decisions about how to proactively plan for the family they want to build and be more efficient in over- coming fertility difficulties they are experiencing using better, more personal information than age." n semnic / Getty Images

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