Industry News

Find here a listing of the latest industry news in genomics, genetics, precision medicine, and beyond. Updates are provided on a monthly basis.

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News for the month of August 2017

Artificial Intelligence was front and center in August’s industry news. AI’s role in patient diagnosis, drug development, and clinical trials has taken off. Meanwhile, the US and China are racing to take the lead in the space.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI may just be the prescription for pharmaceutical’s future
For several years now, the pharmaceutical sector has been quietly using AI and automation technologies for clinical trials, drug analysis, and to accelerate the process of launching products.

The Great US-China Biotechnology and Artificial Intelligence Race
A conversation with Eleonore Pauwels – Director of Biology Collectives and Senior Program Associate, Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C.

Want a diagnosis tomorrow, not next Year? Turn to AI
AI as the standard of care for 30M people currently uninsured or on Medicaid in the not-too-distant future.

AI-powered healthcare platform comes out of stealth
The company will provide patients AI-powered conversations about their healthcare.

The AI doctor will see you now
Machine learning is being used to help recognize symptoms in patients before doctors can, a potential revolution for healthcare.


NCI study identifies essential genes for cancer immunotherapy 
Addressing the problem of why some tumors don’t respond to immunotherapy or respond initially but then stop as tumor cells develop resistance to immunotherapy.

Novartis CEO opens door to cancer patient demanding ‘fair’ CAR-T pricing
Because the treatment is personalized—immune cells are extracted from patients and engineered to recognize and kill their cancer—its impending approval has sparked concerns about just how expensive it might be.

FDA to approve Kymriah 
The first approved CAR-T cell treatment.

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine, are we there yet?
An article written by Dr. Euan Ashley, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University.

Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients
With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research.

Genomic Medicine Has Entered the Building
With game-changing promises starting to pay off, hospitals need to start preparing now for the changes genomics will bring.

A Cancer “Atlas” to Predict How Patients Will Fare
Researchers use a big-data approach to find links between different genes and patient survival.

Making the Future of Personalized Medicine a Reality
A Q&A with the President of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, Edward Abrahams, PhD.

All of Us Precision Medicine Network Expands with $13.8M in Grants

Genomics/Genetic Testing

Science Says: DNA test results may not change health habits
If you learned your DNA made you more susceptible to getting a disease, wouldn’t you work to stay healthy?​

Genetic testing threatens the insurance industry
Insurers worry about adverse selection; the insured worry about discrimination.

The 5 Smartest Companies Analyzing Your DNA – MIT Technology Review
Includes 23andMe, Illumina, Sophia Genetics, Oxford Nanopore, and Veritas Genetics.


Microbes compete for nutrients, affect metabolism, development in mice
Gut bacteria get to use a lot of our food before we do.

Stanford study indicates that more than 99 percent of the microbes inside us are unknown to science
A survey of DNA fragments circulating in the blood suggests the microbes living within us are vastly more diverse than previously known.

Human genetic variation and the gut microbiome in disease
Recent microbiome genome-wide association studies reveal that variants in many human genes involved in immunity and gut architecture are associated with an altered composition of the gut microbiome.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Invitae Acquires CombiMatrix, Good Start Genetics
Invitae has agreed to acquire two diagnostics developers, CombiMatrix and Good Start Genetics, for a combined $72 million in cash and stock, in a deal designed to expand the buyer’s diagnostics offerings across all stages of life.

Gilead Sciences to Acquire Kite Pharma for $11.9 Billion 
The companies have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Gilead will acquire Kite for $180.00 per share in cash.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Completes Acquisition of Patheon
Thermo Fisher acquired Patheon, a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO, for approximately $7.2 billion.

News for the month of July 2017

July was a great month for funding! Genoox raised $6M, Blueprint Genetics raised €14M, and Exosome Diagnostics raised $30M. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan donated $10M to launch UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences to advance health using big data. Liquid biopsies, deep learning, and genomic vaccines were listed as some of the year’s top emerging technologies. Check out July’s news below and stay posted for August’s to see what else the summer has in store.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

If you’re not a white male, artificial intelligence’s use in healthcare could be dangerous
Healthcare inequalities are systemic and closely intertwined with social inequalities.

How Alibaba Is Using Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare
Alibaba is charting a way to push the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostics and healthcare to make medical treatment more accessible, timely, and affordable. Alibaba Cloud is actively working on AI-powered solutions to tackle heath care problems in China and globally.

Study shows potential of whole genome sequencing and AI to help clinicians scale precision oncology

Is big pharma really on cusp of AI shake-out?

Digital Health

Digital Health Venture Funding Tops $4B in First Half of 2017
Includes patient engagement solutions with $684 million; data analytics with $458 million; mHealth apps at $399 million; booking at $391 million; telemedicine with $297 million; mobile wireless with $275 million and electronic medical records at $237 million.

Fitness Trackers Won’t Make You Fit. Can They Make You Well?
The race is on to come up with the next breakthrough. And this time, players much bigger than Fitbit may enter the fray. Google, Apple, and a number of pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop the next generation of wearables, which can track medical metrics in addition to fitness data.

Challenges, Opportunities of Mobile Health Devices in the Hospital
Digital health tools and data are changing how clinicians manage and coordinate care withpatients, both inside and outside the health system.

What’s needed to scale up digital health in the clinical provider space
Doctors want solutions that improve patient outcomes while simplifying workload.

The Smart-Medicine Solution to the Health-Care Crisis

Two digital health startups mark milestones to simplify medication orders

How Apple is piecing together its secret healthcare plan

Precision Medicine

Genomic testing in oncology: from single genes to whole genomes
Here’s an overview of how the field of precision medicine with genomic testing tools has rapidly evolved in the past years.

Precision medicine is growing up 
In spite of growing pains, those pioneering in the field must learn how to turn all the emerging knowledge into workable clinical and business models.

For the Cancer Moonshot, collaboration is still the number one fuel
No one company or person is curing cancer. Instead, the battle is being waged worldwide by thousands of academic labs, medical centers, government organizations, and life science companies working on everything from big data to diagnostics, clinical trials, and beyond.

Why genetic testing could become the DNA of insurance

NCI-COG Pediatric MATCH trial to test targeted drugs in childhood cancers

Companies Rush to Develop ‘Utterly Transformative’ Gene Therapies

Patient-Centered Vs. Lab-Centered ‘Personalized Medicine’

Immunotherapy / Immuno-oncology

Personalized Cancer Vaccines Look Promising in Two New Studies Vaccines tailored to the unique genetic makeup of individuals’ tumors seem to work in a handful of patients.

CAR-T Cell Therapy Is Here To Stay

NT-219 Re-sensitizes Cancer to Keytruda, Stopping Tumor Progression, Study Shows

F.D.A. Panel Recommends Approval for Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment

Next-Generation Sequencing

NGS detects bacteria in Alzheimer’s brains

Is NGS living up to the hype?

Thermo Fisher’s Oncomine Knowledgebase Reporter Aims to Simplify NGS Analysis

Genomics/Genetic Testing

Professor Dame Sally Davies’s releases annual report which addresses the challenges arising from genomic data
Download this eighth independent annual report of the Chief Medical Officer 2016: Generation Genome.

ClinGen lists labs meeting requirements for variant quality data sharing
Includes labs such as Ambry, Counsyl, GeneDx, Illumina, Invitae, and others.

Courtagen Life Sciences Shifts Focus to its Medicinal Cannabis Genetics and Testing Business
Courtagen closes its genetic testing business.

Aetna Won’t Cover Noninvasive Prenatal Testing for Average-Risk Pregnancies
Aetna updated its medical policy for noninvasive prenatal testing this week, choosing not to cover screening for average-risk pregnancies.

Helix just launched an ‘app store’ for genetics
DNA testing startup Helix has launched an “app store” for your genetic code with a number of partners offering tests on its new platform.

Gencove is offering a $59.99 genome sequencing assay, ancestry and microbiome testing

NIH to Fund Studies Examining Implications of Genome Research

Evelo Bio Raises $50M Round to Bring Microbiome Drugs Into Trials


News for the month of June 2017

June was a big month for precision medicine. Biden’s new Cancer Initiative continues the Cancer Moonshot mission. Immunotherapy treatments are gaining steam with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) being shown effective in tumors with defects affecting the “mismatch repair” pathway. With all these discoveries and treatments on the horizon, Vinod Khosla predicts that oncologists will become obsolete as Artificial Intelligence will automate the cancer treatment decision-making process!

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Vinod Khosla predicts AI will replace human oncologists
Khosla: AI will be “explosive,” but that progress will come at the expense of other key problems.

AI is already beating us at our own game
AI systems are already outpacing the intellectual capabilities of their creators in a wide variety of fields.

Sophia artificial intelligence empowers liquid biopsy to fight cancer

Precision Medicine

Biden’s Cancer Initiative Continues “Moonshot” Mission
The Initiative aims to help drive new actions and collaborations toward the ambitious goal of ending cancer.

70% of Orgs Planning Precision Medicine Will Deploy Within 2 Years
Precision medicine is advancing quickly, with the majority of interested organizations planning to launch programs within the next two years.

The Biobanking Boom
An interview with Dr. Alissa Resch, Director, Biobanking Operations at Coriell Institute for Medical Research discussing key drivers, ethical issues, and new emerging trends in the biobanking space.

What are some misunderstood complexities of bringing clinical studies to patients’ homes?
Explores the key drivers of direct-to-patient (DTP) services and makes recommendations on how to simplify execution and bring about benefits to patients participating in – and companies running – clinical trials.

Big Data Integrity Needed to Use Genomics for Care Coordination
Genomic data will only be able to improve care coordination and personalized medicine if the industry can develop the big data integrity and analytics capabilities to ensure sharing across the care continuum.

Why gathering genetic data could mean a whole world of pain
Google-backed 23andMe announced it would be enlisting the help of 20,000 volunteers – along with German pharma company Grünenthal – to carry out a major new study of the genetics of pain.

The CEO of Children’s National Health System on Leadership, Innovation, and Delivering Specialized Care
Dr. Kurt Newman on the advantages and challenges of specialized children’s hospitals.

Routine DNA Sequencing May Be Helpful And Not As Scary As Feared

Machine Learning And The March Towards Precision Medicine

Next-Generation Sequencing

Reporting practices for unsolicited and secondary findings from next-generation sequencing technologies: Perspectives of laboratory personnel
This study highlights that laboratories are still grappling with decisions about which UF to report from NGS and are calling for more guidance.

Genomics England Adopts Illumina’s BaseSpace Variant Interpreter for Cancer
In the coming months, Genomics England will be expanding the use of BaseSpace Variant Interpreter for cancer to all NHS Genomic Medicine Centers, and Illumina will be removing the ‘Beta’ status from its software offering, and formally launching it for public release later this summer.

DNAnexus Launches Novel Platform for Human Microbiome Research

Illumina Announces FDA-approved Next-Generation Sequencing Cancer Companion Diagnostic Test Kit

Digital Health

Fostering Medical Innovation: A Plan for Digital Health Devices
New FDA Commissioner, Gottlieb, sets out a plan for regulating digital health technology which intends to foster innovation and help the agency to devote more resources to higher risk priorities.

An overview of Apple’s healthcare operations
An overview of Apple’s healthcare operations, including FDA-cleared devices, wearable glucometer, health-related acquisitions, and more.

The consumerization of healthcare


Precision Oncology: Gene Changes Predict Immunotherapy Response
Promising news from pembrolizumab clinical trial, which was expanded to include 86 adults with 12 different types of mismatch repair-deficient cancers that had been previously treated with at least one type of standard therapy.

Cancer drug proves to be effective against multiple tumors
The FDA approved pembrolizumab, brand name Keytruda, for patients whose cancers arise from the same genetic abnormality.

Checkpoint inhibitors flourish

Immunotherapy takes on tumors that can’t fix DNA

Genomic/Genetic Testing

Mt. Sinai Spinout Sema4 Aims to Expand Genomic Testing; Sees Future in Data Science
Mount Sinai Health System has spun out several genetic testing and data sciences components into a private company.

New concerns raised over value of genome-wide disease studies
Large analyses dredge up ‘peripheral’ genetic associations that offer little biological insight, researchers say.

FDA Approves First Companion Diagnostic Test to Simultaneously Screen for Multiple Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Therapies
Oncomine Dx Target Test (Thermo Fisher Scientific) is now FDA approved to help physicians develop treatment plans for lung cancer.

Agendia’s MammaPrint® Now Included in Blue Shield of California Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients

Would you pay $6400 for the mother of all genetic tests?

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Companies Move Into Medical Diagnosis (GOOG, IBM)
Google is gearing up to provide “Diagnostics-as-a-Service” capabilities through its cloud division.

Amazon still dominates cloud computing as Microsoft and Google struggle to catch up
Amazon Web Services Inc. has retained an impressive lead in Gartner Inc.’s latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service.


Ambry Genetics to cut nearly 100
Ambry Genetics is exploring possible sale following a period of dramatic growth

The Man Behind San Diego’s $26 Billion Company
Will Illumina’s new hotshot CEO, Francis deSouza, be able to lead the San Diego genomics giant into the complex world of clinical care?

How Boston Became ‘The Best Place In The World’ To Launch A Biotech Company
It all started at a City Council meeting in the 1970s.

Guardant sues Foundation Medicine over false advertising
Guardant sues FMI for false and misleading statements in its advertising about the accuracy of Guardant360.

George Church receives Mendel Award at ESHG 2017 – Mendel Lecture

NIAID scientists discover rare genetic susceptibility to common cold

CRISPR Platform Scans DNA to Predict Off-Target Effects


More than 18,000 Genomic Records from Cancer Patients Available

An Expanded View of Complex Traits: From Polygenic to Omnigenic

Microbioal genetic composition tunes host human longevity

New concerns raised over value of genome-wide disease studies

One in five ‘healthy’ adults may carry disease-related genetic mutations

Wide-Open: Accelerating public data release by automating detection of overdue datasets

Mergers and Acquisitions

Eurofins acquires GATC in Germany & Genoma Laboratory group in Italy

Invitae Acquires Ommdom’s CancerGene Connect


Navican Genomics raises $15M in series A to commercialize TheraMap & expand precision medicine cancer care offering

Twist Bioscience Raises Additional $27M in Series E Venture Capital Funding – has by now raised a total of $193M

Swift Biosciences raises $12.2M in Series D -> Launches Next Phase of Company Growth and Expansion

Centogene raises 25M euros in Series A – will use funds for biomarker & companion diagnostics development

CellMax Life Receives NT$23M Grant From Taiwan Government for Cancer Early Detection Test

SerImmune Inc. Raises $8M to Map the Human Antibody Repertoire

ASCO 2017

Web-Based System for Self-Reporting Symptoms Helps Patients Live Longer

ProfiLER Study Demonstrates Importance of Genomic Testing for Precision Medicine

Illumina and American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. Jointly Donate Thousands of Somatic Interpretations to CIViC to Advance Genomic Medicine

ASCO expands TAPUR Sites: Inks collaboratioon to investigate precision oncology globally


News for the month of May 2017

May’s news was full of the hopes as well as the challenges for precision medicine and next-generation sequencing. New partnerships, ventures and funding rounds are rapidly driving the industry forward. However, clinicians are still wondering how long it will be before the benefits of NGS and personalized medicine outweigh the costs.

Next-Generation Sequencing

Pocket-sized sequencers start to pay off big
Portable sequencers are opening up genomics to remote locations such as the Antarctic. Oxford Nanopore hints that smart phone powered sequencers are on the horizon.

Illumina plans to expand its operation in China after recording high double-digit growth in the past two years.

Integrated DNA Technologies partners with Illumina
The partnerships aims to deliver robust multiplexing capabilities and streamline target enrichment methods.

Repositive launches Personal Genome Project data collection
Repositive is expanding the range of data available with the launch of a Specialist Data Collection for the Personal Genome Project.

Bluebee and Medisapiens Announce Strategic Partnership
The combined partnership is offering an integrated end-to-end NGS analysis and interpretation solution for clinical and research applications.

See our Bio-IT World 2017 conference wrap up Bio-IT 2017 – Data Security, Data Sharing, Data Access, Data Integration, Data…. with a summary of industry and next-generation sequencing news coinciding with the event which includes news from the Broad Institute, DNAnexus, Edico Genome, Illumina, SolveBio, and other companies.

Precision Medicine

When Even Genome Sequencing Doesn’t Give a Diagnosis
The technology has been touted as a powerful diagnostic tool, but it doesn’t provide answers to everyone.

In an Era of Precision Medicine, Testing New Approaches to Breast Cancer Screening
Trying to move precision medicine in the arena of breast cancer screening, a new trial aims to recruit 100,000 women.

This $25,000 physical has found some ‘serious’ health problems. Others say it has serious problems
Craig Venter’s “latest venture – a subsidiary called Health Nucleus based in San Diego, California – says it can detect undiagnosed health problems by combining DNA analyses with a $25,000 workup including a whole-body MRI scan, metabolomics screening, 2 weeks of constant heart monitoring, pedigree analysis, microbiome sequencing, and a glut of standard laboratory tests.”

Liquid Biopsies Remain Wait and See for Some Clinicians
Clinicians are starting to become aware of the advantages liquid biopsy offers, but they still have reservations. They will not fully accept liquid biopsy until they see substantive demonstrations that the sample-collecting method offers unique benefits to patients, without depriving them of any of the benefits that are already available with traditional biopsy techniques.

Q&A With Daryl Pritchard, PhD, of the Personalized Medicine Coalition
An interview with Daryl Pritchard, PhD, vice president for Science Policy at the Personalized Medicine Coalition, on the FDA’s drug approval process, developments in the personalized medicine field, and reimbursement models that integrate diagnostics.

Denmark Launches National Genome Center and Personalized Medicine Initiative for Improved Healthcare for Danish Citizens
The Danish government will spend about $14.2M over the next three years on expanding personalized medicine and genomic data into electronic medical records, and establishing a national genome center.

How Penn Medicine primed its IT infrastructure for precision medicine
An interview with Brian Wells, Penn’ associate vice president of health technology and academic computing, who explains some of the technology innovations Penn Medicine has made as it works to improve integration with its electronic medical record and use of analytics tools to mine unstructured data to offer real-time decision support.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Hospital uses AI to embrace clinical genomics
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is able to sift and analyze vast amounts of genomic data, thereby enabling clinical scientists to better diagnose patients.” Jurgi Camblong, CEO of Sophia Genetics, explains how this has helped doctors working in the genetics department at a major London teaching hospital.

Sophia Genetics announced release of Whole Exome Solution (WES) and Clinical Exome Solution (CES)
Based on pattern-recognition technologies, SOPHiA features a database search engine for the identification and retrieval of matching variants regardless of their representations, alignment, or complexity.

Other News

Senate Confirms Scott Gottlieb to Head F.D.A.

Bio-IT World Launched First Hackathon with focus on FAIR data, data that are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable

Changes in NIH Grant Policy?

CRISPR kills HIV and eats Zika ‘like Pac-man’. Its next target? Cancer

China Pushes Ahead With Human Gene-Editing Trials

Trump Calls for 18 Percent Cut to NIH Budget in FY 2018

The FDA is going digital

23andMe Is Making Its First Foray into At-Home Research, to Study Pain


Open sharing of genomic data: Who does it and why?

Guidelines for Validation of Next-Generation Sequencing–Based Oncology Panels

Associations of Luminal and Basal Subtyping of Prostate Cancer With Prognosis and Response to Androgen Deprivation Therapy

Evaluating the Clinical Validity of Gene-Disease Associations: An Evidence-Based Framework Developed by the Clinical Genome Resource

Mergers & Acquisitions

GRAIL merges with Cirina
This business combination will focus on early cancer detection and allows GRAIL to expand its ability to make an impact globally.


Edico Genome raises $22M in Series B
Edico Genome raises $22M in Series B from Dell Technologies Capital for software development, sales, and marketing. The company plans to grow to 60 employees by end of 2017.

BC Platforms raises $10M in Series B
BC Platforms Closes USD $10 million Series B Financing led by Debiopharm and Tesi to accelerate knowledge platform development.