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Qiagen-Backed Firm Apis Assay Technologies Launches in Manchester Innovation Hub

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Apis Assay Technologies, a company supported by Qiagen and Health Innovation Manchester in the UK, has officially launched with the goal of expediting the commercialization of biomarkers into new diagnostic tests.

According to its website, Apis' business model has three main areas of focus: a biomarker industrial research program; so-called "fast-tracking" of biomarkers and diagnostic platforms for commercialization; and contract development.

Under the biomarker industrial research program, Apis will undertake research on biomarker-based diagnostic assays targeting oncology as well as inflammatory, cardiovascular, infectious, and inherited diseases. The program will adopt a "portfolio model" towards biomarker characterization, linking genomic biomarkers and clinical histories data to relevant external datasets, thus building a clinical and genomics knowledgebase. The program will also use AI-enabled data mining to identify novel biomarkers with industrial potential.

Apis will also partner with the University of Manchester and the Manchester Foundation Trust on aspects of this research, and biomarkers emerging from the program will be available for sale to the corporate market for product development.

Meanwhile, Apis will also separately fast-track exceptionally promising biomarkers through an accelerated product-development and regulatory validation process with the intent of creating technologies ready for immediate commercialization or licensing to the clinical marketplace.

Finally, the contract development arm will tailor development of novel molecular diagnostic tests on new medical diagnostic platforms for third parties. Apis said that it already has a master R&D agreement in place with an undisclosed molecular diagnostics company.

Currently, Apis has three tests in development including a test for prognostic breast cancer diagnostics. The company hopes to use the insights gained in oncology to expand its diagnostics services to other disease areas such as liver and lung diseases, pharmacogenomics, and reproductive diagnostics, using multiple technology platforms and a wide range of sample types.

Apis will act as an industry partner of Health Innovation Manchester, a regional economic development partnership that aims to bring together public and private entities to commercialize molecular diagnostic and other healthcare innovations.

The company will also partner with Qiagen, which has taken an undisclosed minority stake in the company, according to a Qiagen spokesperson.

Apis and Qiagen's Manchester subsidiary will continue to be based at Manchester's global genomics campus, dubbed Citylabs 1.0. Last year, the city council of Manchester approved a £21 million ($27.9 million at the time) investment as part of a public funding package to support the creation of Citylabs 2.0, which will open in 2020 and feature Qiagen as an anchor company.

"We're proud that Qiagen was selected as a partner to create this innovative new company Apis, which we believe has the potential to accelerate scientific discovery and drive the development of valuable molecular tests," Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said in a statement. "We believe that this partnership with the great scientific and clinical expertise and capacities found in Manchester will accelerate molecular biomarker research, leading to the development of new and promising diagnostic assays."