Exact Sciences looks beyond colorectal cancer Dx with extended Mayo Clinic collaboration

Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy

Exact Sciences ($EXAS) is building on a previous collaboration with Mayo Clinic to develop tests for the gastrointestinal tract, riding high off last year's successes and expanding its offerings beyond colorectal cancer.

The Madison, WI-based company originally inked a deal with Mayo Clinic in June 2009 to develop Cologuard, its stool-based colorectal cancer test. The new agreement includes a 5-year extension with Mayo Clinic to create screening, surveillance and diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer and other GI diseases. Dr. David Ahlquist, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, will lead research efforts, and Exact will hold onto the rights for certain intellectual property including patents and new markers, the company said in a statement.

"By expanding our relationship with Mayo Clinic, we have an opportunity to build on our shared successes and continue looking for new opportunities to take on some of the deadliest forms of cancer," Kevin Conroy, CEO and chairman of Exact Sciences, said in a statement. "This collaboration and our ability to leverage both institutions' distinctly different strengths is unique in American industry."

The news comes on the heels of more good tidings for the company as it forges ahead with development for its Cologuard test. In August, Exact won an FDA OK for the product through a joint pilot program from the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which aims to reduce time between approval and Medicare coverage. A couple of months later, the company nailed Medicare coverage for Cologuard, gaining access to 50 million patients.

But Exact is not the only diagnostics outfit developing innovative tests for early-stage colon cancer detection. In September, Belgium's VolitionRx raised just over $1.1 million to fuel R&D for its noninvasive colorectal cancer diagnostic panel. In December, Epigenomics won marketing approval in China for its next-generation colorectal cancer test, moving the company forward on its path toward global commercialization for the product.

- read the release

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