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In Brief This Week: Personalis, Burning Rock, Thermo Fisher, Caris Life Sciences, More

NEW YORK – Personalis reported this week its unaudited preliminary revenues for the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31. The firm estimated approximately $16.7 million in Q4 revenues and approximately $65 million in full-year earnings, exceeding its previous guidance of $63 million to $64 million.

The company expects revenue from biopharma and other customers to be $15.8 million for Q4 2022 compared with $15.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2021. It also estimated that revenue from the US Department of Veterans Affairs Million Veterans Program will total $900,000 for the quarter compared with $5.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2021.

For the full year, Personalis projected biopharma and other customer revenue of $56.6 million compared with $39.8 million in 2021, a 42 percent increase year over year. It estimated full-year MVP revenue totaling $8.4 million compared with $45.7 million in 2021.

Burning Rock said this week that its OverC multi-cancer detection blood test has been granted breakthrough device designation by the US Food and Drug Administration, a classification that offers an eased assessment and review process for novel medical products.

The OverC assay is intended for early detection of esophageal, liver, lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers in adults of either sex, aged 50-75 years old with average risk for cancer. In a case control study, the test demonstrated 69 percent sensitivity and nearly 99 percent specificity, and Burning Rock is now in the process of conducting prospective interventional validation studies in an asymptomatic population.

Thermo Fisher Scientific this week has completed its acquisition of specialty diagnostics company The Binding Site Group, from a shareholder group led by European private equity firm Nordic Capital, in an all-cash transaction valued at £2.3 billion, or $2.8 billion at current exchange rates. Thermo Fisher said The Binding Site's more than 1,200 global employees will become part of Thermo Fisher's Specialty Diagnostics segment. The company first announced the agreement to acquire The Binding Site on Oct. 31, 2022.

Caris Life Sciences and Xencor said this week that they have expanded their collaboration to research, develop and commercialize antibodies directed against novel targets for the treatment of patients with cancer.

The new agreement builds on an initial partnership announced last August, expanding the number of targets and cancer types that Caris will interrogate with its multiomics discovery engine, Caris Discovery. Under the new terms, Xencor will receive exclusive worldwide rights to research, develop, and commercialize products directed to up to three targets. Caris will receive an upfront payment and will be eligible to receive up to $187 million in development and commercial milestone payments, royalties on net sales of commercialized products resulting from the collaboration, and future rights for molecular profiling and companion diagnostics.

ProPhase Labs said this week it closed its $4.6 million acquisition of the exclusive rights to Stella Diagnostics' BE-Smart Esophageal Pre-Cancer screening test and related intellectual property assets. The firm expects to commercialize the test within 18 months. ProPhase said last month it had reached a purchase agreement with Stella, and updated purchase figures in this week's announcement indicate Stella received $3.6 million in cash and $1 million in ProPhase common stock and will receive another $2 million in ProPhase common stock upon hitting a revenue-based commercial milestone within five years. Stella also will receive a 5 percent royalty based on the adjusted gross margin from commercialization of the intellectual property.

HTG Molecular this week said that its preliminary full-year 2022 revenues are expected to be $6.4 million, including about $2.7 million in revenue from its HTG Transcriptome Panel (HTP) product. In a statement, HTG CEO John Lubniewski said that while full-year revenue "did not show the level of recovery anticipated in 2022," fourth quarter revenues grew 95 percent sequentially over the third quarter. In addition, HTG noted, full-year revenue included a year-over-year increase of $1.3 million in HTP revenue. HTG said that it finished the year with approximately $12.2 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Biological Dynamics said this week that it has filed arbitration against two former employees, Richard Young and Bryan Rice, alleging their misappropriation of the firm's proprietary technology to benefit their new company Exokeryx, which it believes unfairly competes with its exosome-isolation ExoVerita platform. The company added that its investigation of the alleged theft of proprietary technology and other confidential information by its former employees is ongoing and additional legal action may be necessary.

Alveo Technologies announced this week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to codevelop its rapid, handheld, portable, and eco-friendly multiplexed molecular sensing platform. Called be.well, the platform pairs molecular assays with cloud-enabled data analytics for real-time disease, pathogen, and contaminant detection, analysis, and diagnosis at point of need. The partnership will enable scientists and life sciences industry leaders in Barbados to design new assays in the areas of infectious disease, agriculture, veterinary, food, medicine, and aquaculture testing. The firm will also bring its be.well platform and COVID-19 test to Barbados and refine its next-generation high-throughput platform with scientists in Barbados' emerging life sciences ecosystem. The partnership — which is part of Alveo's overall open source partnering model — allows Barbados to share intellectual property and revenue.

DermTech announced this week that four commercial payors — Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kansas City — will cover the firm’s DermTech Melanoma Test. The policies were announced pursuant to an independent technology assessment by a laboratory benefits manager and are similar to the policy created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the test, DermTech said in a statement. The firm also entered into an agreement with a Blues plan in Michigan. The test is now covered for about 104 million people in the US, it added.

Ginkgo Bioworks and Esperovax said this week that they have partnered to develop circular RNA-based therapeutics. The firms will initially target colorectal cancer by inducing cell death only in cancerous cells. Ginkgo will design, build, and screen large numbers of RNA designs that leverage Esperovax's novel mechanism of cell-type specific circularization. Financial and other details of the partnership were not disclosed.

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