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Biotech, Sloan-Kettering Partner on Blood Cancer Test

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and biotechnology company Foundation Medicine are developing a new test to diagnose blood-related cancers and connect patients to the best treatment options. Foundation Medicine plans to commercialize the test and bring it to market by the end of 2013. Other financial and intellectual property aspects of the deal were not disclosed.

Foundation Medicine, a three year-old company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, creates cancer diagnostics based on patients’ genomic profiles. The company’s main product, known as FoundationOne, uses genomic sequencing of cancer tissue samples to better identify the mutations in the deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA from a patient’s cancer cells. These mutations offer in about three weeks a more precise fingerprint for the cancer, which can help doctors select more targeted treatments from current therapies, or experimental treatments in clinical trials.

The new test generated by the collaboration will focus on hematologic cancers: leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Memorial Sloan-Kettering will provide its clinical and genomic expertise in hematologic malignancies. Foundation Medicine will offer its technology and computational algorithms to the partnership.

The diagnostic test is expected to sequence both DNA and associated genetic material known as ribonucleic acid or RNA that stimulate biologic reactons in the body and control the communication of genetic instructions. Like other FoundationOne diagnostics, these tests are expected to provide physicians with a more precise picture of the patient’s unique genes and mutations, and offer more precise guidance for current and experimental treatments.

“The development of clinical grade sequencing is rapidly changing the practice of oncology,” says Memorial Sloan-Kettering CEO Craig Thompson, “enabling us to more precisely understand and target the genomic alterations that drive a patient’s individual cancer.”

Foundation Medicine was founded in 2010 by four biomedical faculty members at Harvard and MIT, and associated medical research institutes. Among the company’s founders is Eric Lander of MIT and Harvard, one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, and co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Foundation Medicine is backed by venture capital companies including Third Rock Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Google Ventures.

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