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Quest, UCSF Collaborate on Precision Medicine

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Quest Diagnostics and the University of California, San Francisco today announced a collaboration to develop diagnostic tests to advance precision medicine.

The alliance will initially take aim at autism, oncology, neurology, and women's health, and has as its underlying goal to enable "holistic and integrated diagnostic solutions that close gaps in care or enable new clinical value."

Quest and UCSF will together research, develop, and validate diagnostic methods to solve specific clinical issues and provide actionable information in order to better patient care, they said. Quest will independently develop and validate any laboratory-developed tests resulting from the collaboration for clinical use.

Technologies and methods used as part of the agreement include laboratory-based diagnostics, imaging methods, and population analyses based on Quest's national Health Trends database of more than 1.5 billion patient encounters.

The deal is the first master agreement signed by UCSF's Office of Innovation, Technology, and Alliances with a clinical laboratory testing firm, and paves the way for multiple projects between it and Quest.

The collaboration is launching with two projects currently underway. One uses Quest's national database of molecular testing data to research and then develop products based on Quest's CGH microarray ClariSure technology. The products are aimed at identifying genetic variations associated with autism and other developmental disorders.

Quest and UCSF said that a test for diagnosing autism could help identify patients who might be appropriate candidates for research studies that could lead to therapies.

A second project seeks to identify biomarkers for use in targeting children with glioma brain tumors who could benefit from a drug currently available to treat the illness. The project would integrate molecular biomarker testing with advanced MRI imaging technologies.

The project is the initial phase of larger collaborative studies to "develop and validate integrated care pathways, which would include laboratory diagnostics, imaging data, and other clinical information to be used in the management of patients with brain cancer and neurological diseases," the partners said.

They added that today's deal will further combine UCSF's early stage research with Quest's expertise in data pooling and analysis "to initiate and advance clinical studies." Areas of mutual interest include digital health initiatives to improve diagnostic information and to inform population health strategies, as well as integrated diagnostics that combine imaging, laboratory, and clinical datasets "into valuable diagnostic solutions that will yield health insights for targeted groups of patients."

"Advances in technology and science have identified many promising opportunities to improve outcomes through insights revealed by novel diagnostic solutions, yet fulfilling the full potential of these opportunities often hinges on translational clinical studies which validate their value," Jay Wohlgemuth, senior vice president of science and innovation for Quest, said in a statement. "This unique collaboration between UCSF and Quest brings together the finest researchers and clinicians in the country to accelerate the development of a 'product pipeline' of scientific discoveries as clinically valuable diagnostic solutions that enable precision medicine for improved outcomes.