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US Oncology, Baylor, Starting PGx-Focused Lab

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Houston-based cancer care and research company US Oncology is working with Baylor Health Care to start a joint venture in metropolitan Dallas that will provide a range of lab testing, molecular diagnostic, and pharmacogenomic services.

The joint venture will use the talent, patient pools, and resources from Baylor Health Care Systems and Baylor College of Medicine, as well as individuals, assets, and technologies from US Oncology, in the venture, which for the moment is going by the temporary name NewCo, the venture's CEO, Keith Laughman, told GenomeWeb Daily News Tuesday.

The four strategic investors in the venture include US Oncology and Baylor HC, as well as Texas Oncology, and Pathologists Biomedical Laboratories, according to Laughman, who formerly was president of esoteric services at pathology services provider AmeriPath and president of Mayo Medical Laboratories.

NewCo has leased a 172,000-square-foot space in Lewisville, Texas, where it aims to employ more than 200 people by the end of this year, and perhaps more than 900 in five years.

The company will be a full-service clinical lab focused on molecular diagnostics, and will emphasize its focus on pharmacogenomics efforts. The effort will particularly focus on validating the clinical utility of certain pharmacogenomic and companion diagnostic tests, Laughman said.

The NewCo labs initially will use both the US Oncology network and Baylor's resources to provide testing services and clinical trials support services, and it will eventually expand to become a full contract research organization focused on oncology services, Laughman said.

"We're going to have a strong focus on cancer," Laughman said of the venture, because of the relationships with US Oncology and Baylor's research capabilities.

He said that "a lot of what we will do will be to create a distribution channel… for new and novel technologies" that need to be used and tested in medical contexts before they may be useful for wider use.

"A lot of these diagnostics invite more questions at first than they provide answers," when they are being tested because there are "diagnostic gaps" the need to be filled, and because "as you get more information, it triggers other clinical questions."

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