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Sequencing Data-based Analysis Firm Nextcode Health Launches; Raises $15M in Series A Financing

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Nextcode Health officially launched today, saying it has licensed technology developed by Decode Genetics that it will use to accelerate the diagnosis of cancer through sequencing-based data.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company also said that it has secured $15 million in Series A financing. Investors in the round included Polaris Partners and Arch Venture Partners, and the financing will be used to scale up the integration of its genomics services into clinical settings.

A Nextcode spokesperson confirmed the company is a spinout of Decode.

Nextcode's licensing deal with Decode — which Amgen acquired in December 2012 for $415 million — is for five years and covers the genomics platform Decode has developed for sequence-based clinical diagnostic applications. The agreement covers IT infrastructure and data analysis capabilities, Nextcode said. Additional financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nextcode will leverage Decode's Genomic Ordered Relational database infrastructure and sequence analysis systems, and it plans to further develop the systems for clinical research and clinical care. The company also will have access to Decode's proprietary knowledgebase that includes more than 40 million validated variants, which will allow Nextcode's customers to manage and analyze genomics data at a large scale without heavy IT infrastructure investments.

Clinical sequencing services will be performed through Nextcode's CLIA-certified laboratory, which also will accept legacy sequence data from customers. The raw sequence data is "run through a pipeline that combines the GOR infrastructure, access to Decode's substantial knowledgebase, including public and proprietary reference sequence data, and systems for genome analysis and interpretation," Nextcode said.

Its own Clinical Sequence Analyzer will provide confirmation of mutations through visualization of raw sequence data in real time, "providing greater transparency than existing systems and enabling users to validate their findings," the company added.

The CSA is a clinical genome interpretation tool that enables users to analyze sequencing data and interpret genomes, exomes, or transcriptomes, resulting in the discovery of de novo and rare mutations, as well as "high-impact" genetic variants, Nextcode said on its website.

The company also announced its first collaborations, focused on oncology and pediatrics. In one partnership, Nextcode and the Molecular Core Facility at Boston Children's Hospital will offer data analysis, genome interpretation, and clinical data management to more than 60 affiliated principal and physician investigators from the hospital, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Also, Nextcode said it is supporting the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University in the UK in its use of exome sequencing for diagnostic purposes. Researchers at the institute are analyzing exome data with the CSA platform.

Nextcode also is providing technology to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia in support of ongoing exome-based research in cancer and other indications.

Lastly, the company is supporting research at Saitama University in Japan to identify mutations in pediatric and oncology populations there that potentially could be used to diagnose and treat patients. Nextcode's set of reference data has corroborated preliminary findings obtained by researchers at the university, it said.

Nextcode's management team comprises former executives from Decode and includes CEO Hannes Smarason, who was CFO and executive vice president of business and finance of Decode between 1997 and 2004.

Also, Jeff Gulcher, a Decode co-founder and its former chief scientific officer, will serve as Nextcode's president and chief scientific officer. Daniel Siu will be its VP of worldwide sales and marketing. He was managing director, responsible for the genomics service and genetic test business in North America and Asia Pacific between 2005 and 2011.

"Our vision is to transform patient diagnosis and resultant care through the rapid and accurate use of genome sequence data, and we are deploying the most powerful tools ever developed to make this vision a reality," Smarason said in a statement. "These tools will enable us to provide clinically relevant insights to physicians and geneticists with unrivaled speed and accuracy."