Report: GeneCentric seeks $2M to support lung cancer Dx commercial launch

Six months after emerging from stealth mode, North Carolina startup GeneCentric is pursuing $2 million in new funding to support the rollout of a targeted lung cancer molecular diagnostic test.

As WRALtechwire reports, the Durham company also wants to use the new investment to build out its lab and hire a number of employees.

GeneCentric began in 2011, focused on core technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It made its formal debut, however, at the end of August 2012. Co-founders Charles Perou and Neil Hayes found molecular signatures that help identify clinically relevant subtypes of lung cancer, and they launched the company along with Hatteras Venture Partners's Myla Lai Goldman, herself an ex-LabCorp executive who is serving as CEO.

GeneCentric's lung cancer focus would help accelerate the advance toward personalized medicine by identifying a particular cancer subtype and then enabling doctors to bring in a targeted treatment that would work best. The company's initial Lung Subtype Platform does this, using a genetic fingerprint from a tumor sample to differentiate between multiple lung cancer subtypes. LabCorp licensed the test and sells it as HistoPlus-Lung Cancer, according to the article.

A second diagnostic technology known as Hypoxia Signature is designed to help identify patients who could respond to anti-angniogenesis cancer drugs such as Avastin, the story explains, which is made by Roche ($RHHBY)/Genenetch.

The quest to develop personalized lung cancer companion diagnostics has generated some big league interest. Among the players: Qiagen ($QGEN), which is seeking premarket approval for an EGFR diagnostic that would determine which patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer would benefit from Boehringer Ingelheim's afatinib, a cancer drug that targets the specific EGFR mutation.

- read the WRALtechwire story