Thermo Fisher's automated sequencer to offer same-day, pan-cancer test results

Thermo Fisher Scientific headquarters
Thermo Fisher also introduced the Oncomine pan-cancer panel that allows genomic profiling tests to be run from fixed tissue and liquid biopsy samples using a single assay. (Thermo Fisher)

Thermo Fisher Scientific has launched a new, automated next-generation sequencing platform, designed to turn around results from specimens in a single day—which the company says will help give smaller, local hospitals a better chance at offering high-throughput genomic testing.  

At the same time, Thermo Fisher also introduced a pan-cancer panel that allows genomic profiling tests to be run from fixed tissue and liquid biopsy samples using a single assay. Both were unveiled during the annual meeting of the Association for Molecular Pathology in Baltimore.

The fully integrated Ion Torrent Genexus System requires minimal amounts of tissue samples and is capable of running small batches as they arrive, all with little human intervention, according to the company. Additionally, the quick turnaround time will allow molecular pathology labs to run genetic sequencing tests alongside first-line diagnostics such as immunohistochemistry tests.  

“Our goal is to advance precision medicine in every clinical setting by enabling clinicians to leverage the power of comprehensive genomic information,” Mark Stevenson, Thermo Fisher’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

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“We can envision a time when patients at local hospitals will have faster access to comprehensive test results that can guide more effective, targeted therapy selection and improved health outcomes,” Stevenson said. 

Typically, the logistics of performing such tests at small hospitals involves limiting capabilities to narrowly focused, single-gene tests instead of the complete genomic profile of a tumor. Otherwise, the hospitals may outsource the work to laboratories, which can take days to weeks to ship, process and return a result.

The Genexus System includes an integrated sequencer as well as a purification system and reporting software. Thermo Fisher said it plans to seek FDA approval of the system for a menu of diagnostic assays in oncology and other clinical applications.

Meanwhile, the company’s Oncomine Precision Assay is designed to detect a suite of cancer-relevant genetic biomarkers, taken from solid tumor and liquid biopsy samples.

When combined with the Genexus system, labs will be able to generate comprehensive next-generation sequencing results in the same time frame as single-gene tests, according to Thermo Fisher. The Oncomine assay is the first of several panels the company has planned for oncology studies and other research applications.