ROCHESTER, Minn.—Renowned nonprofit Mayo Clinic and cancerdiagnostics and services company Cancer Genetics Inc. (CGI) have announced thelaunch of a joint venture, OncoSpire Genomics. The new company will focus ondiscovering and commercializing biomarkers and diagnostic tests that leveragenext-generation sequencing for multiple cancer types.
OncoSpire Genomics is a limited liability company with anoffice in Rochester, Minn. The Mayo Clinic and Cancer Genetics have equalownership in the company, with three members from each organization comprisingOncoSpire's six-member scientific review committee. Intellectual property willbe shared equally and owned by OncoSpire.
Cancer Genetics will provide commercial expertise, and willcontribute $2 million in operating capital with the option to provide up to $6million over the next three years.
The Mayo Clinic will match Cancer Genetics' investment within-kind contributions including lab resources, clinical expertise,next-generation sequencing infrastructure, scientific expertise and otheroperational resources. Projects will be mutually agreed upon by the scientificreview committee.
"Our goal is the rapid discovery and commercialization ofbiomarkers for cancer," says Sam Smith, public affairs specialist at the MayoClinic.
OncoSpire's initial areas of focus will be hematological andurogenital cancers.
"Cancer Genetics' current business lines focus on theseareas," says Smith. "We mutually believe there are large and currently unmetneeds in these two areas that would benefit from joining forces to advancemolecular discovery and clinical services."
Although hematological and urogenital cancers representOncoSpire's starting point, the collaborators already plan to expand biomarkerdevelopment activities beyond these two areas.
The research will be conducted at Mayo Clinic labs thatspecialize in life science and genetics, including its Center forIndividualized Medicine Biomarker Discovery Program. OncoSpire also will makeuse of Mayo's medical genome facility to explore personalized medicineapplications based upon exploration of how individual differences in humangenomes affect health outcomes. Thanks to advances in technology, theresearchers are now able to sequence an entire human genome for a few thousanddollars in a matter of days.
"The combination of resources we are bringing togetherpositions OncoSpire Genomics to create a major impact in the development ofadvanced genomic-based cancer diagnostics," Cancer Genetics CEO Panna Sharmasaid in a press statement announcing OncoSpire's launch. "Our investment inOncoSpire Genomics represents the potential for a paradigm shift in patientmanagement that can result in more efficient use of healthcare resources,ultimately improving the cost structure of cancer diagnosis and treatment."
The partnership was forged after Scott Beck, administratorat the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, began activelypursuing partnerships in this space.
"Part of it was happenstance—people on the boards of the twoorganizations started to talk informally," says Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, directorof the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. "Then we began duediligence. We knew that we wanted to get biomarkers, and we discovered thatCancer Genetics had this capability and knew how to set up a pipeline."
"This venture is a long-term partnership that plays to thestrengths of both companies," say Smith. "It pairs Cancer Genetics' experiencein discovery and commercialization with Mayo Clinic's biomarker discoveryexpertise and history of tackling clinical problems by going into the lab anddeveloping tools and diagnostics."
OncoSpire's scientific review committee consists of MayoClinic appointees Farrugia, Beck and Kathy Bates as well as Cancer Geneticsappointees Drs. Raju Chaganti, Sharma and John Pappajohn.
The Mayo Clinic is a worldwide leading nonprofit in medicalcare, research and education. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, funded by theNational Cancer Institute, promotes basic and clinical research into cancer andtranslates discovering into methods for prevention, detection, diagnosis,prognosis and therapy. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicinediscovers and integrates genomic, molecular and clinical sciences intopersonalized care for Mayo Clinic patients.
Cancer Genetics Inc. has emerged as a provider of DNA-basedcancer diagnostics and services to several prestigious global medicalinstitutions including Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the Cleveland Clinic and theNational Cancer Institute. Its diagnostics target forms of cancer that aredifficult to diagnose or for which it is difficult to predict outcomes oftreatment, including hematological, urogenital and HPV-associated cancers.