LabCorp announces nationwide launch of its VistaSeq multigene cancer panel

LabCorp ($LH) announced that its 27-gene VistaSeq Hereditary Cancer Panel to detect patients with increased risk of various cancers--including breast, ovarian, melanoma, pancreatic, colorectal, endometrial, gastric and prostate cancer--is now available nationwide.

Certain genes like BRCA have long been associated with cancer, but LabCorp joins the list of companies who are offering multigene tests that detect the most prominent mutations, as well as newer or lesser known ones, all at once.

Naturally, companies charge more for the multigene diagnostics, buy the test can save patients and insurers money by avoiding the need for multiple single-gene tests. LabCorp says that guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology say the multigene approach might be economical when used appropriately in clinical settings.

According to LabCorp, the cancers whose likelihood of inheritance the VistaSeq tests for account for 200,000 deaths per year and 900,000 new diagnoses. The test is available through any LabCorp account and will be performed by Integrated Genetics, part of the company's Specialty Testing Group.

Integrated Genetics also helps customers out with insurance reimbursement and provides access to genetic counselors who are trained to analyze and interpret the results.

LabCorp CSO Dr. Marcia Eisenberg

"LabCorp's VistaSeq testing capabilities and services provide physicians and patients with powerful tools for the assessment of hereditary cancers," said Dr. Marcia Eisenberg, LabCorp's chief scientific officer, in a statement. "VistaSeq was developed based on our strong in-house expertise in genomics and the latest advancements in science. LabCorp is a leader in genetic testing and counseling services, and we continue to expand our innovative menu of focused genetic tests."

Indeed, the development is part of LabCorp's push to diversify and move into more complex arenas on top of its nuts-and-bolts diagnostic offerings. In July, the company announced it is joining forces with Sysmex to develop blood-based molecular tests for cancer, bolstering its clinical diagnostics footprint months after sealing its $6 billion deal for Covance.

In addition to cancer diagnostics, consumer-oriented offerings are another frontier being pursued by LabCorp. Amid increased demand for rapid at-home diagnostics, it's planning to offer its products directly to consumers online without a doctor's order. The Burlington, NC-based company has already been doing back-office lab work for Internet firms that allow people to order tests without a physician, but the company in April said it will let customers go online to pay for tests, visit a service center to get blood drawn and then view the results on the web.

And it's part of a collaborative venture led by Illumina ($ILMN), dubbed Helix, that aims to spur consumer applications of genetic data by providing affordable sequencing and other database services for genetic samples brought via third-party partners. Helix will store the genetic data in the cloud to help its partners develop and sell consumer products and applications based on the information.

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