Celgene takes equity stake in Sequenta and its precise Dx tech

Sequenta attracted new equity investment from Celgene ($CELG) and other unnamed parties that back the use of its technology in the drug development process and the creation of new ultraprecise diagnostic tests.

Sequenta CEO Tom Willis

Financial terms of the investment are not being disclosed. But the money will be used, in part, to weave Sequenta's ClonoSIGHT gene sequencing-based cancer test into clinical trials for drugs designed to treat various blood cancers. As well, the cash will support development of new clinical diagnostics based on Sequenta's LymphoSIGHT platform, a lab-testing technology that allows for the detailed testing of several million B and T cells in a blood or tissue sample.

Both rely on the idea of minimal residual disease detection, the use of diagnostic tests to find scattered cancer cells in a patient's body that are left over during or after treatment. These minute numbers of cells often can only be detected using ultrasensitive molecular tests, Sequenta said.

ClonoSIGHT is billed as a diagnostic test that lets physicians use gene sequencing-based minimal residual disease detection to help make treatment decisions for patients with blood cancers. The LymphoSIGHT platform on which it works is marketed for clinical use in minimal residual disease detection in lymphoid cancers. As well, Sequenta said, it is exploring expanded use of LymphoSIGHT, in part, for patients with autoimmune diseases--specifically to evaluate treatments focused on modulating the immune system.

Sequenta CEO Tom Willis said in a statement that the new investment backs up Sequenta's belief in the usefulness of minimal residual disease detection technology to better treat various cancers and other diseases.

"Celgene's investment in Sequenta, along with the other strategic investors, will further support adoption of our powerful minimal residual disease detection and quantification technology as the emerging standard for response assessment and disease monitoring in clinical trials of medicines for blood cancers, as well as the development of new applications of our LymphoSIGHT platform," Willis said.

Back in July 2013, South San Francisco-based Sequenta raised $20 million in new venture money designed to help market ClonoSIGHT for use in new patient groups, including those with multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. It was initially used for patients with different types of leukemia when it first launched in February 2013.

- read the release

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