Aiming to expand its global molecular diagnostics business, Veracyte inked a $50 million deal with NanoString Technologies for access to the NanoString nCounter Analysis System, which analyzes RNA, DNA, or protein targets in various sample types. Prior to the collaboration, Veracyte had been focused on advancing the diagnosis of thyroid cancer, lung cancer, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis through genomic testing. By obtaining access to the nCounter platform, the company is now in the position to provide genomic tests to hospitals and laboratories worldwide. “Veracyte is the ideal company to help ensure that our nCounter-based diagnostic platform can benefit as many patients around the world as possible,” said Brad Gray, president and CEO of NanoString.

The companies plan to begin running an extensive list of genomic tests on the nCounter platform in 2021. As part of the agreement, Veracyte also acquired access to NanoString’s Prosigna Breast Cancer prognostic assay and LymphMark lymphoma subtyping assay, which is still in development. As of now, Veracyte hopes to utilize the nCounter system to distribute tests internationally beginning with its Envisia classifier for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis and its nasal swab classifier for lung cancer diagnosis. NanoString also plans to merge key team members with Veracyte.

Roche, Illumina Partner on Oncology NGS

Roche and Illumina have entered into a 15-year partnership in the hopes of broadening the adoption of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based testing in oncology. The companies are bullish on their ability to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer by combining Illumina’s expertise in NGS with Roche’s focus on clinical oncology.

The settled agreement specifies terms for both in vitro diagnostic (IVD) and companion diagnostic (CDx) products. Roche will obtain full access to Illumina’s NextSeq 550Dx System, as well as all other diagnostic sequencing systems, to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Avenio IVD tests for tissue and blood. In return, both companies will collaborate to develop and pursue CDx claims on Illumina’s pan-cancer assay TruSight Oncology 500 for Roche’s existing and future targeted oncology therapies on the NextSeq 550Dx System. “This collaboration is uniquely positioned to improve medical value and clinical decision-making globally and will provide more patients with access to NGS to characterize their disease and identify the right treatment for them,” said Thomas Schinecker, PhD, CEO of Roche.

The partnership comes after Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) announced termination of their 2018 agreement to enhance Illumina’s NGS technology. Under that agreement, Illumina was set to acquire PacBio for $1.2 billion to merge both companies’ specializations in DNA sequencing. However, both the Federal Trade Commission and the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority had reservations about the agreement, stating that the deal would cause Illumina to dominate the field of NGS technology and diminish competition. Both companies acknowledged that ending the agreement was the best decision for their employees and shareholders. As part of the original agreement, Illumina will have to pay PacBio a $98 million termination fee.

Sysmex, OPTiM Announce Digital Medicine Joint Venture

In a bid to accelerate the commercialization of digital medicine, Sysmex and OPTiM announced a joint venture to develop diagnostic technology solutions through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Specifically, the agreement will merge Sysmex’s skills in healthcare global sales and services with OPTiM’s AI technologies, such as OPTiM Cloud IoT OS.

The collaboration aims to improve the use of AI for image processing of genetic data acquired from Sysmex analyzers. The companies also plan to work closely with pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers to include additional applications. This initiative comes at a time when digital medicine platforms are crucial for managing patient testing and diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the companies said. The newly agreed upon business plan follows a partnership between the two companies that was established in February 2019.

VerAvas, Tymore Collaborate on Alzheimer’s Early Detection

Diagnostic companies Veravas and Tymora Analytical Operations are combining technologies to improve neuroscience applications in the in vitro diagnostics market. The companies plan to focus on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) early detection biomarkers. As the number of patients diagnosed with AD rises, research has shown the need for a more rapid assay as an alternative to the current extensive procedures used to detect the illness.

The collaboration will merge Veravas’ proprietary sample preparation technology with Tymora’s extracellular vesicle enrichment technology to develop a diagnostic test for early detection of AD. If successful, it would mark the first effective screening test from human plasma for AD and could replace the need for the cerebrospinal fluid neuromarker testing that is currently used for diagnosis and treatment, according to the companies. “This new partnership allows us both to expand our resources to favorably impact assay development and performance,” said Anton Iliuk, PhD, Tymora’s president and chief technology officer.