Mount Sinai Health System in New York City is partnering with AllerGenis to develop and commercialize technology for improved food allergy detection. Through this collaboration, Mount Sinai has licensed its proprietary epitope mapping platform to AllerGenis. AllerGenis will initially use this platform to develop a precision diagnostics peanut allergy assay, which it plans to make available in the fall of 2019, followed by a pipeline of assays for other common food allergies including milk, egg, shellfish, and tree nuts.

The epitope mapping platform is based on immunologic research conducted by the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The platform subdivides protein allergens into smaller peptides, called epitopes, and measures the reactivity of a patient’s antibody levels to these epitopes, generating a unique epitope reactivity signature for each patient. AllerGenis is curating a growing database of human epitope signatures that providers will be able to use in tandem with the tests AllerGenis is developing to assess and manage patients with food allergies.

“AllerGenis’ diagnostic technology, using epitope mapping, is expected to expand our ability to accurately diagnose patients with food allergies and, at the same time, should markedly decrease misdiagnosis,” said Hugh Sampson, MD, director emeritus of the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute. “Moreover, it should greatly narrow down the number of people who would have to submit to an oral food challenge, which can potentially be extremely risky for food allergy patients.”

Illumina to Buy Pacific Biosciences

Illumina has entered an agreement to acquire Pacific Biosciences for its long-read sequencing capabilities at a price of $8 per share in an all-cash transaction. While Illumina’s short-read sequencing platforms can be used for the majority of sequencing applications, select applications such as de novo sequencing and sequencing of highly homologous regions of genomes are better addressed with accurate long-reads.

With its acquisition of Pacific Biosciences, Illumina expects to provide integrated workflows that bring together the best of both technologies. “Combining the two technologies positions us to … accelerate the pace of genomic discovery and bolster our innovation engine which has been a hallmark of Illumina since our inception,” said Francis deSouza, president and CEO of Illumina. “[Pacific Bioscience’s] relentless pursuit to improve sequencing accuracy, while driving down the cost, underscores the potential of long-reads to expand sequencing to new customers and applications.”

UF, King’s College Join Forces on Type 1 Diabetes Biomarker Discovery

A collaboration between the University of Florida and King’s College London in the U.K. has received $3.7 million in support from Adaptive Biotechnologies and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to discover molecular biomarkers of type 1 diabetes. The partners will use Adaptive Biotechnologies’ genetic sequencing platform to determine the molecular signatures of T-cell receptors, with the aim of identifying the rogue T-cells that destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

The University of Oslo in Norway will also contribute its computer algorithms and machine learning approaches for data analysis. The collaboration anticipates that this research will enable the development of a test that predicts who will develop type 1 diabetes and that tracks the disease’s progression even before symptoms emerge. This work could also lead to a test that assesses whether type 1 diabetes treatments targeting the immune system are effective.

Janssen to Use Proteomics International Test to Assess Patient Response to Diabetes Drug

Janssen Research and Development and Proteomics International Laboratories have joined forces to advance diabetic kidney disease drug discovery. Under the terms of their agreement, the two companies will conduct a study using Proteomics International’s PromarkerD test as an early predictor of kidney function in patients who took part in Janssen’s clinical trials for a drug of the gliflozin class that helps lower blood glucose in adults with diabetes.

The study will assess how the PromarkerD score correlates with drug response in patients with diabetic kidney disease. “Gliflozin drugs could be hugely beneficial in improving patient outcomes from diabetes complications, and we look forward to determining whether PromarkerD can help in assessing responses to this treatment,” said Richard Lipscombe, PhD, managing director of Proteomics International.

The collaboration will also evaluate how PromarkerD -performs in predicting heart disease, another major diabetes complication. Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease would be a new application for PromarkerD.

1CellBio, OMI to Harness Single-Cell RNA Sequencing for Precision Medicine

lCellBio and the Open Medicine Institute (OMI) have teamed to investigate the potential use of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technology in precision medicine applications. Under the terms of this collaboration, OMI will validate 1CellBio’s inDrop System as part of a clinical research project that will initially focus on generating predictive data for patients with an undiagnosed immune dysfunction condition. Researchers at OMI will aim to identify putative biomarkers of this condition and to demonstrate how an integrated omics approach improves sensitivity, accuracy, and specificity of complex immune disease diagnosis, in addition to potentially guiding therapeutic decision-making. The study will also use machine learning and additional big data analysis techniques to identify clinically relevant patterns of gene expression in single cells, as well as relationships between disparate omic data types and single-cell expression patterns. Following this pilot project, the two organizations will explore the production of a scRNA-seq-based laboratory-developed test that OMI will offer through its CLIA-certified laboratory.

Qiagen, NeoGenomics Team to Speed Availability of Cancer Co-Diagnostics

Qiagen and NeoGenomics are collaborating in an effort to accelerate the availability of companion diagnostics for cancer therapeutics. Building on the Food and Drug Administration’s modernized regulatory approach to advanced diagnostics such as next-generation sequencing tests, NeoGenomics will work with Qiagen and its pharmaceutical partners to streamline the synchronized development and launch of targeted drugs and their associated companion diagnostics.

As part of this initiative, Qiagen and its partners will provide investigational use only tests to NeoGenomics and other labs, enabling them to verify, set up, and run these companion diagnostics in clinical trials and in anticipation of regulatory approval.

“As a leading provider of oncology testing for both clinical trials and patient care, NeoGenomics is uniquely positioned to assist pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic tests,” said Douglas M. VanOort, chairman and CEO of NeoGenomics. “Our collaboration with Qiagen will ensure that patients have access to the most advanced companion diagnostics to target new cancer medicines, as soon as those medicines are approved.”