Genoptix test to guide melanoma treatment decisions

Personalized medicine has been a popular topic in medical device and biopharma circles as of late. One company that has long had its eye on this area is Genoptix Medical Laboratory ($GXDX), a part of Novartis Molecular Diagnostics ($NVS), headed by Tina Nova, one of FierceBiotech's Top 10 Women in Biotech in 2010.

Earlier this month, Genoptix launched NexCourse Melanoma to guide physicians in choosing treatments for metastatic melanoma patients. The NexCourse Melanoma diagnostic profile targets and detects BRAF, NRAS and c-KIT mutations, all of which are associated with a certain prognosis or response to treatment.

Many melanomas are discovered at an early stage and successfully treated. However, roughly 68,000 patients a year are diagnosed with metastatic cancer, which is very fatal, Nova told FierceMedicalDevices.

Genoptix is trying to help these melanoma patients with its test that uses next-generation sequencing technology. NGS technology allows researchers and clinicians to analyze millions of DNA templates, significantly increasing the scale of sequence data produced. The profile allows Genoptix to give doctors personalized test results for each patient, including the mutation analysis of each biomarker.

Roche has a test--Cobas V600, which is a companion diagnostic for Zelboraf--that only tests for one mutation, but Genoptix's offering goes beyond that and looks at three mutations. With more testing options out there, oncologists are able to obtain a lot more information than they have in the past.

Genoptix is very focused on getting its tests out to patients as quickly as possible, Nova added. There is a huge chasm between what's being done by academics and what's being done in clinical practice for patients, and Genoptix wants to bridge that gap.

Currently, the company is focused on bringing its products to the U.S. market. But being part of an international company means other markets are on the radar. In fact, being part of Novartis has resulted in a "perfect marriage," as the Swiss giant has a rich pipeline of cancer drugs, Nova added. Although many thought an outfit like LabCorp or Quest would scoop up Genoptix, the year-old union with Novartis has worked out well. In fact, Genoptix might not have been able to work as quickly as it has been able to without Novartis.

- check out the Genoptix release

Special Report: Tina Nova - Top 10 Women in Biotech