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Applied Proteomics Sells Assets to DiscernDx for $1.85M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Diagnostics firm Applied Proteomics has sold substantially all of its assets to biotech startup DiscernDx for $1.85 million.

The sale marks the end for the San Diego-based proteomics firm, which was launched in 2007 by David Agus, director of the University of Southern California's Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, and Danny Hillis, chairman and cofounder of technology firm Applied Minds.

The company raised more than $50 million in financing over the course of its existence and brought to market a blood-based proteomic test for colon cancer, SimpliPro Colon. However, API was never able to generate substantial revenues from sales of the test, and last year lender Square 1 Bank asserted a lien on the company's assets in the amount of $2.1 million.

In December, DiscernDx expressed interest in purchasing API's assets. It reached a deal with Square 1 Bank to buy the assets for $1.85 million, and the two parties executed the purchase on January 5, 2018.

According to business documents filed with the California Secretary of State, Bruce Wilcox, formerly head scientist and leader of R&D at API, is an officer with DiscernDx. The company is backed by Menlo Park, California-based venture firm Khosla Ventures, which features in its portfolio biotech and omics companies including Color Genomics, Deep Genomics, Genalyte, and Guardant Health.

Despite the high profiles of its founders Agus and Hillis — and its claims to have developed a high-performing, highly reproducible mass spec-based proteomics discovery workflow that gave it an edge over similar companies and researchers in the space — API never managed to find commercial success.

The company originally planned to develop a colorectal cancer risk assessment test for asymptomatic patients, similar to Exact Sciences' Cologuard and Epigenomics' Epi proColon, as well as a number of other products in various stages of development.

Ultimately, it launched SimpliPro Colon in 2015 as a test for symptomatic patients designed to help doctors drive compliance with recommended colonoscopies. Last year the company announced that it planned to release a second-generation version of that test that was likewise intended to increase colonoscopy compliance in symptomatic patients, but which would offer higher specificity than the original assay.

API was also working on an assay for use in asymptomatic patients. Additionally, the company was exploring several areas outside colorectal cancer as it sought to generate revenue using its mass spec platform, including development of dried blood spot-based mass spec panels of proteins already in common clinical use, with the aim of competing with existing immunoassays to these proteins.

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