Exact Sciences announced that it will acquire Ashion Analytics, a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited sequencing lab from City of Hope affiliate The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). The acquisition will help support further development of Exact’s precision oncology testing portfolio in the areas of minimal residual disease (MRD) as well as additional sequencing-based assays. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Under the agreement, Exact Sciences would also enter a 10-year collaboration, bringing in the expertise of TGen and City of Hope, to develop differentiated MRD testing capabilities for patients and establish the clinical evidence necessary to drive adoption.
“Exact Sciences continues to strengthen the robust foundation established for Oncotype to lead precision oncology,” said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences in a press release. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with TGen and City of Hope, complementing our relationships with other world-renowned cancer research leaders including Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University.”
The acquisition follows a licensing deal the two companies entered surrounding to further develop TGen’s TARDIS (short for TARgeted DIgital Sequencing), a liquid biopsy test that indentifies and quantifies minute amounts of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in a patient’s blood sample. TARDIS integrates the analysis of dozens of mutations, not simply a single mutation as many assays do, resulting in a test that, according to TGen, is “as much as 100 times more sensitive than other blood-based cancer-monitoring tests.”
According to Dr. Muhammed Murtaza: “By precisely measuring ctDNA, this test can detect the presence of residual cancer, and inform physicians if cancer has been successfully eradicated.” Murtaza, who led a study of the technology applied to breast cancer patients, also noted that TARDIS is precise enough to tell if early-stage breast cancer patients have responded well to pre-operative drug therapy.
Ashion’s work focuses on using genetic information from a patient’s tumor and normal genomes to provide oncology solutions. It developed the comprehensive genomic test called GEM ExTra, and provides access to whole-exome, matched germline, and transcriptome sequencing capabilities. The current Ashion team will work to incorporate the TARDIS technology into Exact Sciences’ MRD test development.
“This will be a groundbreaking research collaboration for TGen and City of Hope, as we continue to advance important scientific innovations and transformative treatment approaches for cancer care,” said Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope. “On the heels of our recent licensing agreement for our proprietary TARDIS technology, Exact Sciences is an ideal partner for this new collaboration, which aims to provide more information to physicians and their patients worldwide when diagnosing and treating cancer.”