Veracyte and Decipher Biosciences have entered into an agreement under which Veracyte will acquire Decipher Biosciences for $600 million. Through the acquisition, Decipher’s expertise in urological cancers will assist Veracyte in expanding its current genomic cancer diagnostics market. The companies aim to accelerate commercialization of tests to physicians and patients across the globe.

Decipher’s current test menu includes whole transcriptome analysis and machine learning algorithms to advance clinical care and cancer therapies for patients. The company has marketed its tests to all 28 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) centers in the United States with both the Decipher Prostate Biopsy and Decipher Prostate RP test recommended in the NCCN guidelines. The company has also developed a bladder test to launch this year and is currently working on a test for kidney cancer.

Veracyte currently focuses on diagnoses of lung, breast, and thyroid cancer as well as interstitial lung diseases. With Decipher’s portfolio of prostate, bladder, and kidney cancer tests, Veracyte
will not only expand its test menu but also increase distribution of its nCounter Diagnostics platform in laboratories and hospitals across the world. In addition, Veracyte will obtain Decipher’s Genomics Resource for Intelligent Discovery artificial intelligence database, which holds more than 85,000 urologic cancer samples.

Under the terms of the agreement, Decipher employees, including its president and CEO, will join the Veracyte team. The companies expect the deal to be finalized in May of 2021.

Beckman, Genedrive Announce SARS-CoV-2 Kit Shipment to U.S.

Beckman Coulter and Genedrive have announced the first shipment of Genedrive’s 96 SARS-CoV-2 kits to the United States after teaming up in a distribution agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Beckman agreed to sell and distribute the kits across the U.S. and Europe.

Genedrive’s 96 SARS-CoV-2 test utilizes a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) bead format that eliminates the need for the reagent preparation, including fluid dispensing steps, that is typically required by other test kits. Patient samples are first mixed with the PCR beads, then analyzed on PCR platforms. The companies plan to utilize the test on Beckman’s Biomek i7 system, which processes about 1,000 samples per day with a focus on upper respiratory samples for SARS-CoV-2.

“This is an important milestone for Genedrive as the first shipments of our Genedrive 96 SARS-CoV-2 kit are exported to the U.S.," said David Budd, CEO of Genedrive. "We are very optimistic about the U.S. market for COVID-19 PCR testing and it has market drivers that are favorable to the adoption of the Genedrive assay: efficiency, ease of use, automation-friendly, and scalability.”

Hologic and Google Cloud Partner for Advanced Cancer Screening

Hologic and Google Cloud have announced a collaboration to integrate Google Cloud’s machine learning technologies with Hologic’s Genius Digital Diagnostics platform. The newly formed partnership aims to advance Hologic’s current work in screening, diagnosing, and treating cervical cancer in women.

Hologic’s Genius Digital Diagnostics system combines artificial intelligence (AI) with imaging technology to identify pre-cancerous tissue and cancer cells. By digitizing images of patient cells, the system has the ability to provide clear visuals of up to 400 test slides at once for thorough screening. The companies hope to integrate Google Cloud’s machine learning expertise to gain greater insights into the screening process for cytotechnologists and pathologists. According to the partners, Google Cloud will complement the cytology platform by providing a secure data cloud for patient information.

Both Hologic and Google Cloud hope to further explore the combination of AI and machine learning in diagnostics to improve patient healthcare. Hologic’s Genius Digital Diagnostics platform is currently CE-marked for use in Europe.

Bruker to Assess Avacta SARS-CoV-2 Assay

Avacta Group is collaborating with Bruker Corporation to allow Bruker to assess its bead-assisted mass spectrometry (BAMS) SARS-CoV-2 assay, which was developed from a previous partnership between Avacta and Adeptrix in 2020.

Under the partnership between Avacta and Adeptrix, the companies developed the antigen test that combined Avacta’s Affirmer-based reagents, which bind SARS-CoV-2 protein to capture virus particles from a patient sample, and Adeptrix’s BAMS platform, which utilizes mass spectrometry to monitor existing and emerging viral strains. According to Avacta, the BAMS SARS-CoV-2 assay allows analysis of up to 1,000 samples a day by a single technician.

Through the agreement with Bruker, Avacta hopes to further development of the test as an in vitro diagnostic product for SARS-CoV-2 and make it available for clinical microbiology laboratory use. The companies plan to run the test on Bruker’s MALDI-TOF instruments currently commercialized in the U.K. and Europe.

LightDeck Receives $5.65 Million From BARDA

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has granted LightDeck Diagnostics $5.65 million in funding to further development of a rapid antigen test to detect SARS-CoV-2.

LightDeck’s COVID-19 antigen test will build on its pre-existing platform that combines laser waveguide technology with cost-effective manufacturing techniques for highly sensitive and simple testing processes that can deliver results at any time and place. According to the company, the antigen test has the ability to deliver accurate and scalable patient results in less than 6 minutes.

The company previously received $11 million in funding from Series B to support its portfolio of in vitro diagnostic tests. The company plans to combine funding from both Series B and BARDA to advance its COVID-19 testing strategy.