Cancer Dx startup Helomics joins U.K. genomics initiative alongside big biopharmas

Helomics CEO Neil Campbell

Helomics is lending its tumor profiling technology and diagnostic expertise to a U.K. genomics initiative, teaming up with Big Pharma and researchers to uncover new biomarkers and develop advanced tests for cancer.

The Pittsburgh, PA-based company will work with scientists from Genomics England and drugmakers including AbbVie ($ABBV), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Biogen ($BIIB), Roche ($RHHBY) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) on a yearlong trial to accelerate new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cancer and rare diseases. The group, dubbed the Genomics Expert Network for Enterprises (GENE), will mine new genomic data as part of Genomic England's 100,000 Genomes Project, which seeks to decode 100,000 human genomes to spur scientific discovery and ramp up personalized medicine.

"It is an honor and an exciting opportunity to contribute our cancer diagnostics expertise to this impressive group of international industry leaders," Helomics CEO Neil Campbell said in a statement. "We are exceedingly proud to join the 100,000 Genomes Project as part of the GENE Consortium, which we believe will help unlock new insights into the genetic impact on major diseases, as well as inform and accelerate the development of new diagnostics and therapies designed to improve outcomes for patients throughout the world."

Helomics' latest move comes just months after a corporate overhaul, as in November the company changed its name from Precision Therapeutics and snagged $60 million to develop its personalized diagnostics for cancer. The company said it would use the fresh infusion of cash to further its testing platforms, including a personalized reporting system for tumor profiling and predictive analytics that help physicians determine the best treatment options for patients.

And Helomics is not the only company making headway in personalized cancer testing. In December 2013, Westlake Village, CA-based Cynvenio teamed up with San Francisco data analytics firm CollabRx to use its next-generation sequencing test to match patients with an appropriate cancer treatment. In February, Guardant Health reeled in $50 million in Series C financing to ramp up commercialization for Guardant360, a noninvasive test that identifies tumor genomic alterations in real time.

- read the statement

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