In This Issue...

Myriad Acquires Autoimmune Diagnostics Company Crescendo BioscienceTEST

For $270 million in cash, Myriad Genetics has bought Crescendo Bioscience, a molecular diagnostic laboratory that specializes in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Crescendo's core product, Vectra DA, is a quantitative, protein-based test for the routine assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity. The company is also building a comprehensive understanding of the biology of other autoimmune diseases and is developing a pipeline of products for a wide range of diseases and conditions managed by rheumatologists. Additionally, Crescendo has created software products for physicians such as VectraView, which provides a comprehensive overview of RA patients' level of disease activity, and MyRA, which is a patient tracking and communications tool. By acquiring Crescendo, Myriad hopes to facilitate its entry into the autoimmune market while also enhancing the company's strength in protein-based diagnostics.

The transaction is expected to close before the end of Myriad's fiscal year 2014. Under the terms of the acquisition, Crescendo will retain its name and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Myriad.

GenomOncology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute Collaborate on NGS Informatics Solution

GenomOncology and Roswell Park Cancer Institute have entered a partnership to develop a software platform that will enable the identification of clinically useful mutations in next-generation sequencing results. This platform will integrate laboratory information management systems, electronic health records, information technology, and bioinformatics, and will provide a workflow that allows genomic analysts and pathologists to create actionable reports. "The challenges of translating the vast amounts of data from next-generation sequencing into a resource that can be easily and effectively incorporated into clinical and research programs are significant," said Carl Morrison, MD, executive director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Roswell Park. "We need next-generation tools that will help us to deliver the best and most appropriate therapies to our patients through a streamlined process."

Boston Children's, MCW Launch Pediatric Pharmacogenomics Study

Boston Children's Hospital has entered a collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute to use genetic information to predict children's reactions to medications. The primary goal of the study, known as InforMED Kids, is to determine whether individual genetic differences in enzymes involved in the metabolism or action of a drug predict how patients respond to the drug. Currently, the study is enrolling patients from Boston Children's epilepsy, end-stage renal, inflammatory bowel disease, and cardiology programs, and may expand to the psychiatry department. The researchers initially plan to enroll 1,000 patients along with their healthcare providers, with an eventual goal of offering this testing to all patients at the hospital.

Under the terms of Boston Children's partnership with MCW, blood samples from study participants will be sent to MCW for genetic analysis. The results will then be returned to the patients' healthcare providers at Boston Children's. Ultimately, the study's investigators hope to reduce the occurrence of adverse drug reactions by building a database of the effects of different genetic variants on drug responses. This database could then be used to develop prescribing guidelines that tailor treatments to patients' genetic makeup. The study data will also be used to encourage health insurance companies to reimburse the cost of pharmacogenomics screening.

CompanionDx to Use GenomOncology Platform for Cancer Tests

CompanionDx has chosen GenomOncology's GO Clinical Workbench to be the platform for a series of next-generation sequencing–based oncology assays. The GO Clinical Workbench is a step-by-step workflow that takes raw data from the sequencer and translates the molecular profile of each patient's tumor genome into a report that includes clinical interpretations of somatic mutations. "As we develop new tests that leverage next-generation sequencing, we require a solution that meets our current needs but is scalable over time," said David Lasecki, president of CompanionDx. "GenomOncology's platform and services will allow us to efficiently add new cancer panels and expand our testing options to best serve our clients."

PGDx, Johns Hopkins Sign Licensing Agreement for Genome-Mapping Technology

Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) has licensed from Johns Hopkins University exclusive rights to the genome-mapping technology known as digital karyotyping (DK). Developed by the company's founders at Johns Hopkins, this technology quantitatively analyzes DNA copy number at high resolution and can identify large chromosomal changes in human cancer cells along with amplifications and deletions, including those in regions not previously known to have been altered. As PGDx expands its cancer genomics services, the company expects that DK will complement other technologies it has licensed from Johns Hopkins, including the CHASM computational method for identifying cancer-related mutations. Currently, PGDx uses cancer exome analysis to identify cancer-related mutations in approximately 20,000 relevant genes. The company also employs in-depth computational analyses to differentiate between unimportant and cancer-associated mutations.

Companies to Offer Free Genomic Testing to Rare Disease Patients

Global Genes and Syndromes Without a Name USA launched a pilot program on March 1 that will provide free whole exome sequencing to undiagnosed rare disease patients who cannot afford genomic testing, which can cost from $3,500 to more than $5,000 per test. Boston-based Parabase Genomics and the UCLA Clinical Genomics Center have been selected as the first clinical genomic sequencing providers for this program. To start, funding from Global Genes will cover testing for approximately 30 patients, and with additional funding underway, the program is expected to expand in the future.