CosmosID Joins Cancer Moonshot Initiative to Investigate Microbiome’s Role in Cancer

CosmosID has entered a partnership with the White House National Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to accelerate progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer. As part of the collaboration, CosmosID will provide access to its automated bioinformatics platform, MetaGenID, for five cancer microbiome research studies on how the oral, gut, and skin microbiomes contribute to the development of specific cancers. MetaGenID contains more than 65,000 highly curated microbial genomes and is capable of ultra-rapid high-resolution strain- level identification of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, while also providing antibiotic resistance and virulence marker profiling.

This partnership will focus on cancers in which changes in the microbial community and/or the association of specific microbes have been linked to gastric, lung, oral, pancreatic, or cervical cancers. For the five cancer studies, data collected in the analyses will also be freely available to researchers in an effort to answer critical questions concerning the microbiome and its role in the development, management, and treatment of cancer. “There are many pieces of the cancer puzzle to figure out and we are very pleased to offer our support by providing high resolution microbiome characterization to help in both early detection and therapeutic development,” said Manoj Dadlani, chief executive officer of CosmosID.

Scientists and researchers interested in access to the MetaGenID bioinformatics tool for cancer microbiome studies should apply at CosmosID’s newly launched web portal at

IBM, Quest to Make Watson’s Genomic Analysis Capabilities Available Nationwide

IBM Watson Health and Quest Diagnostics have teamed to launch IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, a new service that combines cognitive computing with genomic tumor sequencing. This collaboration will extend Watson’s capabilities to thousands of community oncologists, who provide an estimated 70% of cancer care in the U.S., and marks the first time that Watson for Genomics has been offered widely to patients and physicians across the country. To access this service, the treating oncologist or other physician sends a patient’s sample to Quest, where it is analyzed for treatment-associated genes using next-generation sequencing. Following this, Watson—which ingests approximately 10,000 scientific articles and 100 new clinical trials every month— compares mutations in the resulting genetic file against relevant medical literature, clinical studies, pharmacopeia, and carefully annotated rules created by leading oncologists to identify associated targeted therapies and clinical trials. Quest then reviews and validates the results and sends a report back to the treating physician.

Danaher to Buy Chromatography Consumables Manufacturer

On the heels of entering a merger agreement with Cepheid, Danaher Corporation has now also signed a definitive agreement to acquire Phenomenex, a manufacturer and distributor of proprietary consumables for the liquid and gas chromatography market. Phenomenex’s portfolio includes more than 7,000 products supporting a diverse range of applications in drug discovery and development, clinical research, forensic toxicology, petrochemical, environmental analysis, and food safety. “Phenomenex is a strong business characterized by high growth rates and margins and excellent growth prospects driven by increasing analytical testing needs in the health, research, and environmental segments,” said William Daniel, executive vice president of Danaher. “We look forward to supporting the Phenomenex team in leveraging the Danaher Business System tools for growth and welcoming them to our Life Sciences team.”

Under the terms of the contract, Phenomenex will continue to operate as a standalone company, retaining the Phenomenex brand, personnel, and site locations. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2016.

LabCorp Is First U.S. Lab to Adopt Roche’s Cobas 8800 Molecular Platform

The Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) Center for Esoteric Testing in Burlington, North Carolina has become the first site in the U.S. to offer commercial testing services with Roche’s new cobas 8800 system. The system automates the entire molecular diagnostics testing process, from specimen preparation and nucleic acid extraction/purification through PCR amplification and detection, and is the first high-throughput molecular system to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for CLIA moderate complexity testing. It provides a total of 960 results in an 8-hour shift, and also makes it possible for labs to perform up to three tests in the same run with no pre-sorting required. LabCorp is initially running hepatitis C viral load testing on the cobas 8800 system and plans to add testing for HIV and hepatitis B virus in the coming months. By using this system to improve workflow efficiency, the Burlington site expects to be able to consolidate its virology testing on a smaller number of platforms while increasing its testing capacity.

Utah-Based Healthcare System to Launch Cancer Genomics Company

Intermountain Healthcare plans to form a new genomics research and testing company called Navican Genomics to help physicians identify personalized options to treat and prevent cancer. Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based not-for-profit system of 22 hospitals and 185 clinics, with a medical group that employs about 1,500 physicians and advanced practitioners; it also offers the health plans group SelectHealth as well as other medical services. As an Intermountain Healthcare company, Navican will be part of this integrated healthcare system and will offer a next-generation sequencing (NGS) test for cancer mutations developed at Intermountain. One of Navican’s goals will also be to work with physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare leaders to find treatments and clinical trial options patients would not have had access to previously. Additionally, the company will be committed to advancing research and education to influence how the industry can collectively leverage NGS insights to improve cancer care.

Biotheranostics to Integrate Cancer Tests Into Precision Medicine Software Platform

Biotheranostics has joined forces with the precision medicine software firm Syapse to integrate data from its CancerType ID and Breast Cancer Index genomic tests into the Syapse Precision Medicine Platform. Biotheranostics’ CancerType ID provides a molecular classification of tumor type and is designed to help physicians optimize targeted treatment regimens for metastatic patients with diagnostic ambiguity. The Breast Cancer Index test helps oncologists make decisions about extended endocrine therapy for estrogen-receptor-positive, early stage breast cancer patients by predicting the risk of late disease recurrence and identifying which patients are likely to benefit from continuing adjuvant endocrine therapy beyond 5 years. “We are excited to work with Syapse to make our Breast Cancer Index and CancerType ID clinical testing services available to more health systems through the Syapse Precision Medicine Platform,” said Nicolas Barthelemy, president and chief executive officer of Biotheranostics. “Integrating data from our molecular tests with the Syapse platform will better help physicians harness individualized patient information to extend lives and reduce costs.”