Clinical OMICS

NOV-DEC 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 19 of 47

18 Clinical OMICs November/December 2017 Diagnostics Episona Brings an Epigenetics-Based Male Infertility Test Directly to Consumers Approximately 5 million couples in the United States struggle with infertility. In approximately 35 percent of these cases, both male and female factors are identified as the cause. Last year, Episona, a California-based reproductive health company launched Seed, an epigenetics-based male infertility test that works by probing more than 480,000 regions of sperm DNA for abnormal methylation. Starting in October, the company made the test available online, direct to consumers. Although Seed has been available in more than 40 fertility clinics across the U.S. for the past year, the company received significant interest from individuals who were not working with one of these medical practices, said Alan Horsager, Episo- na's CEO. To address this need, the company created a method that allows people to order the test from the com- fort of their homes. When an individual orders Seed online, their application is reviewed by a physician before the semen samples are sent to the lab. In addition, for those patients who receive an indication of infer- tility, Episona offers complementary genetic counselling through Gene Matters, a partnering firm. According to Horsager, patients can benefit from Seed in myriad ways. It is use- ful not only for simply identifying infertility prior to seeking treatment, it also can help people find the roots of the problem. "Seed results can help identify issues involving sperm function and embryo development, which are not detected with currently available tests," he added. "It is particularly useful if people have gone through several rounds of in-vitro fertilization, have been unsuccessful, and don't know why." In addition, although research linking epigenetic changes that lead to infertility and environmental factors is in its early stages, Horsager said this information could also be beneficial to patients. "If we see problems and we know they have a strong history of smoking, drug use or obesity," he adds. "These are things that they can take control of and make adjustments to hopefully improve their sperm profile." Data gathered from individuals who take Seed tests—and provide informed consent—will be used for research by Episona. In house, the company is inter- ested in investigating what specific set of epigenetic abnormalities can make you infertile, and how certain irregularities can impact the outcomes of treatment-as- sisted pregnancies. The company is also interested in understanding the mecha- nism behind these effects, although most of this work will be conducted through academic collaborations rather than in their own labs.—Diana Kwon Agena Bioscience, N-of-One Partner on Interpretation of Cancer Genomic Data Agena Bioscience will partner with molecular decision support company N-of-One to offer interpretation of can- cer genomic data generated by Agena's MassARRAY system. The partnership will support expansion of Agena's MassARRAY Insights reporting network, a collaboration between Agena and molecular analysis platform provid- ers designed to aid in interpretation by linking the MassARRAY mass spectrome- ter with the providers' analysis software. N-of-One becomes the fifth provider in the reporting network; the other four are Molecular Health, Molecular Match, Pathagility, and Translational Software. "MassARRAY Insights is part of Agena Bioscience's continued effort to support our CLIA-High Complexity Certified lab customers who are tackling the chal- lenges presented in molecular diagnos- tics," Agena CEO Pete Dansky said in a statement. "We are happy to partner with an industry leader like N-of-One to help bring our lab clients an important component that nicely follows the value of our test: an evidence-based, clinically actionable report." n JVisentin / Getty Images PhonlamaiPhoto / Getty Images

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