Guardant Health teams with Flatiron for liquid biopsy-based drug development platform

Guardant Health CEO Helmy Eltoukhy

Guardant Health has been charging full speed ahead with its liquid biopsy technology, inking deals and scoring new funds to expand the reach for its test. In its latest foray the company is teaming up with Flatiron Health to build a cloud-based platform that draws on its genomics data to accelerate cancer drug development.

The companies' platform will combine information culled from Guardant's liquid biopsy test, Guardant360, with data from Flatiron's OncologyCloud analytics platform to facilitate clinical trials, Guardant CEO Helmy Eltoukhy told FierceDiagnostics. The system will allow biotech and pharma partners to uncover new molecular targets, reduce the time it takes to recruit and select patients for clinical trials and follow individuals over time, the companies said in a statement, potentially offering a better picture of how patients respond to therapy.

If all goes to plan, the companies will release the platform to select partners during the first half of 2016, Eltoukhy said.

"We can shave months, if not years, from the time it takes drugs to come to market, match patients to clinical trials and spawn many new programs that deliver high returns on investment," Eltoukhy said. "We know these compounds work, so we're seeing a lot of excitement from pharma partners in terms of this collaboration and the type of acceleration we can offer."

Guardant and Flatiron are also planning to develop additional services for partners, Eltoukhy said. For example, the companies' platform could reveal subsets of patients who respond to certain drug indications. Guardant and Flatiron would then provide additional testing and data-gathering for more formal studies of those individuals, he added.

A partnership with Flatiron comes at a pivotal moment for Guardant, as the company works to increase the reach of its liquid biopsy technology. The Redwood City, CA-based company's Guardant360 test captures tumor DNA fragments cast off into the bloodstream to help physicians find the best treatment for cancer patients. Guardant competes with diagnostic heavyweights such as Foundation Medicine ($FMI), but is working hard to set itself apart from its competition.

In April 2014, the company raised $30 million in Series B financing to boost commercialization for its Guardant360 test. In February, Guardant reeled in $50 million, bringing its total funds raised to $100 million and allowing the company to expand marketing for its 68-gene panel test. The company also recently inked a deal with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to use its cell-free DNA test to guide treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Now, with fresh funds and new partnerships in tow, Guardant is poised to make an even bigger splash in the liquid biopsy market. More than 1,000 oncologists use the company's Guardant360 technology, Eltoukhy said. And the company is seeing a "rapid adoption rate" for its test, he added.

"Our test is addressing a lot of the current pain in the market," Eltoukhy said. "The patient stories of finally being matched with the right therapy and seeing dramatic responses. That's why we started the company and why we burn the midnight oil."

- here's the statement

Special Report: Five companies to watch in the liquid biopsy field

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