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Life Technologies Buys Compendia to Complete Oncology Diagnostic Pipeline

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In keeping with its efforts to build a complete oncology diagnostic development pipeline, Life Technologies has purchased Compendia Bioscience, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based cancer bioinformatics company, for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase adds oncology expertise among other proprietary informatics and data assets to Life Tech’s growing diagnostics portfolio — which includes offerings from its recent acquisitions of Pinpoint Genomics and Navigenics — and will enhance its ability to develop commercial diagnostics across multiple platforms, including next-generation sequencing, real-time PCR, and proteome analysis, Life Tech said.

Current Compendia clients will also benefit from increased investments from Life Tech in the company’s Oncomine tool suite as well as improvements in its current capabilities, including the addition of clinical applications, according to CEO and co-founder Daniel Rhodes.

Rhodes and the rest of Compendia's management will continue to lead the business, which will maintain its Ann Arbor office space. Rhodes will take on new responsibilities in Life Technologies’ medical science informatics team while Arul Chinnaiyan, another Compendia co-founder, will serve as a strategic adviser to Life Tech.

Life Tech said that current customers of the Oncomine tool suite shouldn’t expect any disruptions in their service or see any changes in the way they access the products as a result of the acquisition.

Compendia markets Oncomine, a database of cancer genomic profiles — including copy number variants, gene expression information, and microRNA data — that researchers can use to identify genetic signatures and drug response markers. The company also sells a set of informatics applications — Oncomine Power Tool and Oncomine Concepts — that together help users validate biomarker and gene target discoveries, better understand mechanisms of disease, and optimize clinical outcomes.

Oncomine includes 628 datasets based on 62,000 patient samples across a number of cancer types and allows researchers to compare tumor genetic profiles to determine the most effective drug protocols.

The company's products are currently used in oncology drug discovery and development projects within the pharmaceutical industry. Some of its more recent clients include H3 Biomedicine, who signed a three-year licensing agreement to use Compendia’s tool suite for cancer drug discovery (BI 2/17/2012), and AltheaDX, a San Diego-based diagnostic development and testing company that tapped Compendia to help it develop a qPCR-based breast cancer segregation panel assay (BI 12/17/2010).

Life Tech believes that Compendia’s products and its drug development expertise will help it to both "develop its own tests and to partner with pharmaceutical companies in companion diagnostic development.”

Life Tech also recently partnered with Ingenuity Systems to link disease variants and phenotypes for its cancer diagnostic tests. Ingenuity's resources are expected to help molecular pathologists and medical geneticists review disease management guidelines, identify clinical trials, and derive useful insights from biomedical research.

Compendia’s Oncomine portfolio provides the “final domino” in Life Tech’s overall strategy for informatics, which is to be “one of the leading providers of bioinformatics capabilities” to clients in pharmaceutical and clinical markets, Ronnie Andrews, Life Tech’s president of medical sciences, told BioInform this week.

Together with the assets acquired from its earlier purchases, Life Tech believes it is now better placed to attract business from pharma since it can offer a one-stop-shop for products and services for target discovery and validation, biomarker analysis, clinical sample testing, companion diagnostics development, and clinical implementation, he said.

This capability should also benefit Compendia's current pharma customers, Rhodes added. Where previously, “we … [have used] our content and in silico analyses to understand their drugs, discover predictive biomarkers, and to help them select indications for clinical development …together with Life, we can say, … 'Lets also at the same time develop a plan to translate those biomarkers into companion diagnostics,'” he said.

Over the next two years, Life Tech will use Compendia’s expertise in developing in silico models for diagnostic tests as well as tools and data from the Oncomine suite to develop a therapeutic panel for lung cancer— that will help clinicians select appropriate treatments for their patients — and a second panel that will test for markers of multiple solid tumors, Andrews said.

Both panels will help clinicians analyze genomic and transcriptomic information from patients with an eye toward identifying new and potentially more effective therapies, he said.

Initially, Life Tech will market these panels through its own CLIA-certified laboratory and then release commercial kits at a later date, he said.

Life Tech also plans to develop an Oncomine app that will be included in Ion Reporter — its cloud-based variant analysis software (BI 1/13/2012) — which will provide cancer researchers with access to additional information from Oncomine about the disease variants they find in their sequencing data, Andrews said.

Customers can expect to see the Oncomine app within the next 12 to 18 months, he said.

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