By Monica Heger
GE Healthcare has purchased genomic services firm SeqWright as a first step in a broader strategy to move its Clarient cancer diagnostic business into next-generation sequencing.
Clarient plans to initially use SeqWright's sequencing capabilities in its collaborations with pharmaceutical companies in clinical trials, but its longer-term plans include the development of sequencing-based cancer diagnostic panels, according to Clarient CEO Carrie Eglinton-Manner.
GE's Clarient business, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., offers an array of gene expression and protein expression diagnostic tests for pharmaceutical companies, oncologists, pathologists, and hospitals.
Clarient, which acquired the privately held genomic services firm for an undisclosed amount, plans to not only retain, but expand, SeqWright's Houston-based CLIA- and CAP-certified facility.
Eglinton-Manner told Clinical Sequencing News that the company plans to add next-gen sequencing capabilities to Clarient's lab and gene and protein expression capabilities to SeqWright's offerings.
Additionally, GE plans to eventually open other US-based CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited labs that would offer a range of sequencing, gene expression, and protein expression services in oncology, she said.
SeqWright's sequencing capabilities will initially aid Clarient's collaborations with pharmaceutical companies in clinical trials and for drug development.
"Doing next-gen sequencing allows us to help [pharmaceutical companies] better understand which patients responded to cancer therapies, which didn't, why they didn't, and ultimately help them create a profile of patients to better stratify those patients for clinical trials and ultimately for the therapeutics to best treat them," Eglinton-Manner told CSN.
While the initial focus will be on partnering with pharma, eventually Clarient plans to "develop sequencing-based diagnostics" on an "incremental basis," though the company is still determining "which platform, which cancers, and which content" would be included in those panels, she said.
The panels would include both companion diagnostic tests for pharmaceutical companies as well as broader diagnostic tests that would be marketed to oncologists to help identify potential treatments or clinical trials for a patient.
The tests will be launched as laboratory-developed tests, but Eglinton-Manner said that the company will also consider seeking US Food and Drug Administration clearance, depending on their customers' needs.
The initial focus for sequencing-based diagnostics will be on cancer, but the company will consider other diseases as well, particularly in areas that SeqWright already offers services, such as infectious diseases.
SeqWright is equipped with a number of sequencing platforms, including Illumina's HiSeq 2000 and MiSeq, Roche's 454 GS FLX, Life Technologies' 5500, and the Ion Torrent PGM.
SeqWright's CEO Fei Lu told CSN that for clinical trials, SeqWright primarily uses the 454 instrument, but going forward, she expects clinical diagnostic tests to be developed on either the MiSeq or PGM. Additionally, Lu said she is looking at both the HiSeq 2500 and Ion Proton when those instruments become available.
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