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In Brief This Week: Qiagen, Aetna, AbbVie, and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Qiagen said this week that it has joined CANCER-ID, a public-private consortium aiming at establishing standard protocols and clinical validation for blood-based biomarkers in lung and breast cancer. Qiagen will contribute its expertise in creating liquid biopsy technology.

Aetna this week updated its colorectal cancer screening policy to note that it now considers Exact Sciences' Cologuard screening test a "medically necessary preventive service" every three years for average-risk patients 50 and older. Aetna also considers colorectal cancer screening medically necessary for African Americans starting at 45.

AbbVie and M2Gen announced this week that AbbVie has joined the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) Avatar Research Program. The program, which was launched in April 2016, brings together stakeholders in cancer research with the aim of discovering and developing novel therapies in clinical trials. AbbVie is the fourth pharmaceutical company to participate in the Avatar Program, which is managed by M2Gen.

The Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance announced this week that it has decided to tackle five new disease areas as part of an ongoing genomic sequencing project. The Alliance, which received a AUD$25 million ($19.1 million) from the government of Victoria in 2014, intends to sequence up to 2,500 children and adults. The main new disease area announced today is infectious disease and bacterial drug resistance. Researchers hope to use sequencing to try to build a real-time superbug tracking system across multiple hospitals with the goal of preventing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Additional areas of focus will include applying genomics to quicker and more accurate diagnosis of bone marrow failure, diagnosing complex neurologic and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's or early-onset dementia, diagnosing genetic kidney disease, and improving the understanding of abnormalities that cause miscarriage or death in young infants.

Castle Biosciences said this week that Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Evidence Street has issued a positive assessment of DecisionDx-UM, the company's gene expression profile test to determine prognosis in patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma.

SQI Diagnostics announced this week that it has signed an agreement with an Irvine, California-based predictive diagnostic medicine company to transform that company's multi-biomarker test into an SQI-based multiplex test, with kits to be manufactured at SQI's facility in Toronto. SQI declined to name the customer in question. The agreement also calls for the automation of the test on SQI's sqidlite system which would then be sold to the customer to run the tests at its CLIA laboratory. The customer will also sell both the test kit and SQI automation systems to its own customer base.

Mobidiag said this week that it has opened a new office in the UK, and has appointed Stuart Cranmer as managing director.

FactBio this week moved to new offices in the Innovation Centre on the Cambridge Science Park, in Cambridge, UK. The company has also hired additional staff to support the development of Kusp, its data curation and data discovery platform.


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