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With Sequenta Buy, Adaptive Aims to Combine Immune Sequencing Techs to Develop IVD Kits


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Adaptive Biotechnologies said this week that the goal of its Sequenta acquisition, announced this week, is to develop a gold standard for immune sequencing and to combine aspects of the companies' technologies to create assays that it will bring through US Food and Drug Administration clearance.

Seattle-based Adaptive, a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spinout, acquired South San Francisco-based Sequenta for an undisclosed amount, and said that Adaptive CEO Chad Robins would remain as CEO. In addition, Sequenta CEO Tom Willis and CSO Malek Faham will join the senior leadership team and report to Robins.

Robins told GenomeWeb that the company will continue to operate out of Adaptive's Seattle laboratory, which will serve as company headquarters, and Sequenta's South San Francisco facility.

Acquiring Sequenta and bringing in the additional resources and technology will "accelerate the speed at which we can bring new tests to market," Robins said.

Currently, Adaptive offers a proprietary research-use only kit for sequencing T cell and B cell receptors called ImmunoSeq, as well as a clinical sequencing service, ClonoSeq, which assesses minimal residual disease in patients with T cell and B cell malignancies. Sequenta, meantime, offers its own clinical test, ClonoSight, which uses proprietary technology to target immune cells and measure MRD in leukemia and lymphoma patients.

Robins said that following the acquisition, all current tests would continue to be offered for some time, but that ultimately, "the hope is that we can eventually have a super assay that combines great elements of both technologies."

He noted that while there is some overlap between the two companies, there are also a number of differences.

For instance, he said that Adaptive is a "platform company" that has thus far been primarily focused on the research market, while Sequenta has "focused more vertically in applying the technology to monitor MRD for blood cancers." While Adaptive also has an assay for MRD monitoring in blood cancers, Sequenta is "further along in the commercialization of that test, and we're looking to incorporate it into our portfolio."

Adaptive is currently assessing how the two companies' offerings will be incorporated and what elements will be combined. 

Adaptive is also developing an assay for solid tumors, TILseq, which will evaluate tumor infiltrating lymphocytes to better stage cancers and to predict which patients will respond to cancer immunotherapy. The TILseq assay is "a very high priority for the company," Robins said, adding that he thinks that eventually all cancer patients will be screened for whether or not they will be a good candidate for immunotherapy, and TILseq is an assay that is designed to do just that.

In addition, TILseq will also serve as a prognosis test to "better stage cancer patients for more accurate treatment decisions," he said.

Last November, Sequenta struck a deal with Illumina to commercialize an in vitro diagnostic kit based on Sequenta's MRD detection and quantification technology, which will be carried over in the acquisition. Robins said that aside from continuing the current agreement, Adaptive is interested in building on its relationship with Illumina to develop "other IVD kits for other indications, including solid tumors in cancer, and beyond, into autoimmune disorders and infectious diseases."

Illumina declined to comment on the acquisition and how it would impact its relationship with the companies.

Adaptive has also gained access to technology Sequenta acquired from another immune sequencing company, iRepertoire, a spinout of the HudsonAlpha Institue of Biotechnology. Sequenta licensed the rights to IP iRepertoire holds related to methods for immune cell sequencing for MRD testing.

The acquisition significantly consolidated the immune sequencing market, as Adaptive and Sequenta were two of only a handful of companies in the nascent but rapidly growing space.

iRepertoire will also compete with Adaptive, and this week announced that it would start offering immune sequencing services through HudsonAlpha's CLIA-certified sequencing center. The company also launched iRock, an automated sample prep product for creating immune repertoire NGS libraries. It has also been developing D50, a sequencing assay for measuring immune diversity. Another potential competitor is Atreca, a San Carlos, Calif.-based immunosequencing firm spun out of Stanford University that struck an agreement with Janssen Biotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation to apply its Immune Repertoire Capture system to studies of autoimmune disease.