Genomic Vision eyes a big 2015 for molecular combing technology

Genomic Vision CEO Aaron Bensimon

As diagnostics companies home in on next-generation products for the early detection of cancer, France's Genomic Vision is looking to distinguish itself from the pack with its large-scale genomic screening technology.

The company's "molecular combing" process complements current diagnostic methods, which typically screen point mutations in DNA to identify different forms of cancer. Genomic's combing technology allows clinicians to look for large chromosomal abnormalities and small sequence changes, potentially providing patients with an earlier diagnosis, CEO and co-founder Aaron Bensimon told FierceDiagnostics.

In particular, Genomic's "Genomic Morse Code" helps researchers screen different regions of the genome to categorize structural changes that could lead to cancer. Bensimon compared the process to scanning an item at the checkout at the grocery store.

"You buy a bottle of water, and there is a bar code and by scanning it with a UV light, you know the price of the bottle," Bensimon said. "Any changes that occur within that bar code will indicate a different product. For the genome, it's exactly the same. You have a bar code, and any changes within that bar code will indicate a structural aberration in the genome."

The company has already charted growth since signing a strategic alliance with Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) in 2010 to develop its genomic screening technology. In 2013, Quest introduced Genomic's first lab-developed test for FSHD, a genetic muscle disorder, in the U.S. Last April, the company raised €25 million in a European IPO, expanding the reach for its diagnostic tests.

The company also recently handed Quest a new, high-throughput scanner to screen for mutations in the BRCA gene that can lead to hereditary and breast cancer. Under the agreement, Quest has the right to develop its own lab-developed tests, complementing its suite of sequencing products.

But Genomic is looking to gain more ground in 2015, planning to launch its tests for breast and colon cancer in the U.S. and Europe. In the future, the company hopes to launch four of its cancer screening tests in the U.K., Germany and France, Bensimon told FierceDiagnostics.

"The take home message is the more tools we have to analyze the genes implicated in hereditary cancers--colorectal, ovarian, breast or otherwise--that will help us take the appropriate prevention measures," Bensimon said. "We have to have technology that will analyze the genome in different manners. Among them, medical combing will be a technology of choice." -- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

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