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Genomic Health Completes Transcriptome Sequencing Study, Files Patents for NGS Library Prep

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By Monica Heger

Genomic Health has completed a transcriptome sequencing study, filed patent applications around library-prep methods for next-generation sequencing, and is considering forming partnerships to leverage its sequencing capabilities, the company said last week in a conference call with investors to discuss its second-quarter earnings.

"We believe our proven ability to translate genomic data from fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue into actionable clinical information will position Genomic Health as a leader in the application of next-generation sequencing," CEO Kim Popovits said on the call.

The company began incorporating next-generation sequencing into its research and development program about two years ago, and has said that it will eventually move its molecular diagnostic platform from quantitative RT-PCR to next-gen sequencing (IS 2/22/2011).

"Over the past two years, our multi-disciplinary research team of more than 20 scientists has worked to optimize next-generation sequencing technology for large-scale clinical studies, including its use in fixed, paraffin embedded tissue, marking a significant clinical breakthrough for the field," Popovits said.

Genomic Health has been particularly focused on using next-gen sequencing of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue, and it recently completed a transcriptome sequencing breast cancer study from FFPE tissue of 130 patients. It plans to present data from that study sometime this year, and has submitted an abstract to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December, officials said during the call.

One goal of the study was to assess sequencing technology on FFPE tissue, said chief operating officer Brad Cole. "We were really impressed with the performance of the technology and believe the quality of the study data actually justifies taking it forward into next-gen sequencing development programs in the near future."

Popovits added that the company is planning "several large clinical studies using next-generation sequencing, for the development of future products."

In addition, the company has filed patent applications based on its library preparation methods, and expects to "continue to file patent applications around methodology we create," as well as "transcripts we identify out of our development programs," said Cole.

Additionally, the company said that it is open to the possibility of forming strategic partnerships to further leverage its sequencing capabilities.

"The highest priority is using the technology in the development of our own products," said Cole. "But we're certainly interested in exploring the possibility of working with other partners to use this technology to both our advantages." He did not elaborate.

Popovits added that Genomic Health's "unique capabilities" in working with FFPE tissue will "likely lead" to partnership opportunities.

The company has also invested in two startups focused on developing applications for next-gen sequencing, Locus Development and Station X, although officials did not provide any more details in the call (CSN 5/4/2011).

Genomic Health finished the quarter with $50.8 million in revenue, a 17 percent increase over its 2010 second-quarter revenues of $43.4 million. Net income increased 156 percent to $2.3 million from $900,000 in the second quarter of 2010.


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