Dx Digest: Illumina inks four genetic research deals; Trovagene makes moves in liquid biopsy with additional coverage for tests

Welcome to Dx Digest, where FierceMedicalDevices highlights the highs and sometimes lows of the past week in the diagnostics industry. Illumina inked four biobanking deals to spur genetic research. Liquid biopsy player Trovagene nabbed a coverage agreement for its cancer diagnostics. And diagnostics heavyweight Qiagen took a deeper dive into big data, joining forces with genomics firm CosmosID to launch a metagenomics and microbiome analysis tool. Read on for the details. And as always, feel free to contact us with any comments or questions. -- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

Illumina targets precision medicine with four genetic research deals

Illumina ($ILMN) has been working to expand the reach of its sequencing technology and recently inked four separate deals that will help it on its way. The San Diego-based company will lend its next-generation sequencing technology to Vanderbilt University, University of Colorado at Denver, Partners HealthCare and Montreal Heart Institute to facilitate genetic research and "accelerate discoveries that will improve human health," Illumina said in a statement.

As a first step, scientists will use the company's sequencing systems to analyze 200,000 samples and probe genetics behind complex diseases such as Alzheimer's, bipolar disorder and Crohn's disease. Eventually, large sample collections at each research institution will be genotyped using Illumina's technology, the company said.

"These four personalized medicine programs represent progressive examples of how characterizing the genome using multiple genetic analysis solutions is significantly advancing the understanding of human biology," Illumina EVP and CCO Christian Henry said in a statement. Initiatives include a project at Vanderbilt to analyze data from 100,000 samples to spur research for common diseases, and a program at the Montreal Heart Institute that looks at how patients' genetics can affect their response to heart disease drugs. Statement

Trovagene nabs additional coverage for liquid biopsy tests

Gaining reimbursement is key to competing in a rapidly expanding field, as Trovagene ($TROV) knows well. The San Diego-based company recently celebrated a victory on that front with expanded coverage for its liquid biopsy cancer tests.

Under the terms of the deal, FedMed, whose clients include major insurers such as Aetna and Cigna, will cover Trovagene's Precision Cancer Monitoring tests and services at its participating labs. In the meantime, Trovagene will continue to flesh out clinical studies that demonstrate the utility of its tests, the company said in a statement. Trovagene's blood- and urine-based molecular tests measure cancer-related gene mutations from circulating tumor cells.

"FedMed is among the largest national provider networks in the country, and this agreement is an important step in our ability to offer oncologists and their patients access to our liquid biopsy testing services through their health benefit plans," Trovagene CCO Matt Posard said in a statement. More

Qiagen strikes big data deal for microbial analysis

Diagnostics giant Qiagen ($QGEN) is teaming up with genomic big data firm CosmosID for microbial analysis. The Dutch company will add CosmosID's metagenomics analysis platform to its genomics workbench, allowing scientists to quickly pinpoint microbial communities and see how abundant they are through DNA sequencing.

"Researchers running metagenomic, microbial and other applications often need to rely on complicated data analysis tools from different sources," SVP of Bioinformatics Laura Furmanski said in a statement. "The addition of CosmosID expands the range of metagenomics applications that Qiagen customers can access in our single, user-friendly NGS data interpretation platform."

Potential applications of the technology range from animal health to disease diagnostics. In the future, the tool could help monitor outbreaks or prevent hospital-acquired infections, CosmosID said in a statement. Release