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Belgium's OncoDNA to Offer Cancer Tests on Ion Proton and PGM

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OncoDNA, an affiliated company of the Institute of Pathology and Genetics in Gosselies, Belgium, is offering targeted sequencing-based cancer tests on Life Technologies' Ion Torrent sequencing platforms to help guide patient treatment.

Sequencing for the tests will be done through the IPG, which is also the main shareholder of the privately held company, while OncoDNA is responsible for the associated analysis and IT, as well as marketing.

The company is headed up by CEO and founder Jean-Pol Detiffe, who was previously CEO and founder of DNAVision. Pierre Lefesvre, a medical pathologist at IPG, will serve as the company's medical director.

In addition, Detiffe said that the company is also looking to hire a database manager, IT manager, webmaster, bioinformaticians, and molecular biologists.

Detiffe told Clinical Sequencing News that the company is currently offering the 48-gene Ion AmpliSeq cancer panel on the PGM and plans to run the Ion 400-gene comprehensive cancer panel and exome sequencing on the Proton at the beginning of next year.

The IPG only recently received the Proton, Detiffe said, but expects to validate the larger panel on the Proton by the end of the year, and next year plans to also start sequencing exomes on the Proton. Currently, exome sequencing is outsourced to a service provider.

The company is seeking ISO 15189 accreditation by the Belgian authorities, and was audited last month.

The IPG is equipped with one each of the Proton and PGM. It also has Roche's 454 GS FLX and Sanger sequencers, which are primarily used for constitutional analysis like BRCA testing, Detiffe said.

The company recently raised €2 million ($2.61 million) from both public and private investors. Among its investors are venture capital firm Sambrinvest; Jean Stephenne, former president of GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines; and François Blondel, former CEO of medical device company IBt.

The smaller cancer panel will cost around €700 ($914) and will have a turnaround time of about 10 days. Prices and turnaround times for the larger panel and exome sequencing tests have not yet been determined.

OncoDNA has already begun receiving patient samples, primarily from the partner hospitals within the IPG and for clinical trials with pharmaceutical companies. Detiffe said that the company would also be looking to market the panels to hospitals throughput Europe, other pharmaceutical companies doing clinical trials, cancer research centers, and private oncologists.

The company is building up its own internal database of mutations and links to available drugs and clinical trials.

Detiffe said he envisions a "three-tiered approach" to analyzing patient tumors, starting first with the small panel, which primarily screens for actionable mutations that can be linked to existing drugs or clinical trials. If nothing is found in that first pass, then the patient could be offered the larger panel, which expands the target to include mutations linked to drugs that are still under development, and then exome sequencing if the first two panels fail.

The company is also working on creating an integrated web-based report that will include data from histological pathology reports, sequencing data, information about clinical trials for which the patient is eligible, and a list of available drugs that the sequence data has indicated would be effective and those that sequence data has indicated would not be effective.

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