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In Brief This Week: Thermo Fisher, Yourgene Health, Deep Lens, and More

NEW YORK – Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that it is extending its SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program, providing additional units of its Ion Torrent Genexus and Ion GeneStudio S5 sequencers at a subsidized price for global COVID-19 research and surveillance. The program was launched last May to speed up multi-institutional efforts to map coronavirus transmission and was expanded in July to laboratories working in oncology. 

Yourgene Health said this week that it has partnered with CityDoc Medical and ReCoVa-19 for use of its Clarigene SARS-CoV-2 assay. CityDoc will oversee customer management and offer clinical support for Yourgene's test for the UK government's Test To Release program for international travelers. In particular, CityDoc will manage the e-commerce function and logistics, allowing customers to order a sample collection kit and returning the sample to Yourgene's laboratory. ReCoVa-19 will provide access to its customer-facing COVID testing and wellness monitoring app, which enables sample tracking and allows customers to access their test results.

Broome Oncology, a provider of oncology and hematology services in Central New York, has integrated Deep Lens' artificial intelligence-based screening and enrollment platform, called VIPER, to help its clinical trial care team members identify and match patients to precision oncology trials. Deep Lens' platform combines data from lab tests, electronic medical records, and genomic data to match patients to trials. Eswar Pinnamaneni, clinical research manager at Broome Oncology, said in a statement that identifying cancer patients eligible for clinical trials is a time-consuming process that often requires manual searches of patient records and office notes, a task even more challenging amid the pandemic, which has created workforce limitations. "We selected Deep Lens and VIPER to help us solve these challenges and streamline our identification and screening process," Pinnamaneni said.

British Columbia-based cancer genomic testing firm Canexia Health provided several updates related to Project ACTT (Access to Cancer Testing & Treatment in Response to COVID-19), an effort it launched in July 2020 to provide circulating tumor DNA testing to cancer patients and enable selection of treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic while biopsy surgeries are delayed. More than 800 cancer patients in Canada have received ctDNA testing since the start of the project, which has received samples from patients in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

The company estimated that 11 percent of samples are from patients in rural areas that often lack access to genomic testing. Canexia further noted that Pfizer, Novartis, and the Nova Scotia Health Authority have also joined the collaboration. "In addition to reaching patients during the pandemic, Project ACTT is generating health economics data to accelerate Canadian provincial health coverage for ctDNA testing for cancer treatment selection over the long-term," the company said in a statement.

UK medical products and services firm Excalibur Healthcare Services said this week that its antigen screening test for SARS-CoV-2 has been approved by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for mass screening for COVID-19 in asymptomatic, presymptomatic, and symptomatic patients in that country. The Rapid SARS COV-2 Antigen Screening test is CE marked and was designed to be used in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, care homes, educational establishments, businesses, offices, construction sites, and transport, entertainment, and sporting venues. A clinical trial conducted at the Catholic University of Korea Incheon St. Mary's Hospital with 659 patients demonstrated an overall sensitivity of 96 percent and specificity of 100 percent, accurately corresponding to COVID-19 cases confirmed by RT-qPCR, the company said.

Precision genetic medicine company Akouosa and Blueprint Genetics this week announced that they’ve partnered to create the Resonate program, which offers genetic testing to eligible individuals with auditory neuropathy. The Resonate program is available in the US and is being offered at no cost to participants, their insurance companies, or their healthcare providers.

Akouosa and Blueprint said they plan to expand it to additional geographic regions throughout 2021. Individuals of any age can participate, and they must have a current or prior clinical diagnosis of auditory neuropathy or a medical history consistent with auditory neuropathy. The program will provide access to the Blueprint Genetics Comprehensive Hearing Loss and Deafness Panel, which includes more than 230 genes associated with genetic forms of hearing loss.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on 360Dx.

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