Oncocyte Corporation , a molecular diagnostics company with a mission to provide actionable answers at critical decision points across the cancer care continuum, has completed its acquisition of Chronix Biomedical, a privately held molecular diagnostics company developing blood tests for use in cancer treatment and organ transplants. The acquisition includes the intellectual property and technology for Chronix’s TheraSure™-Copy Number Instability Monitor test for immune therapy monitoring. The Chronix CNI test is a patented, novel blood-based test that is differentiated from current methods because it requires no upfront tumor tissue sample. With the acquisition, Oncocyte also gains the organ transplant technology and the associated patent portfolio developed by Chronix.
“We believe the acquisition of Chronix will provide Oncocyte a distinct competitive advantage as the first and only company to potentially offer a continuum of tests, from selecting patients for immune therapy treatment, to monitoring the effectiveness of the treatment,” said Ron Andrews, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncocyte. “Once available, we believe the CNI test will allow physicians to begin monitoring patients for treatment efficacy more quickly given the CNI test requires only a blood sample. In contrast, getting a result from the emerging tests for monitoring can take significantly longer as these tests start with the time consuming and costly genetic sequencing of a patient’s tissue sample. According to our voice of customer work, many later stage cancer biopsies do not provide enough tissue available to complete the analysis. These challenges are particularly amplified in lung cancer, where most later stage patients have very limited tissue from a fine needle biopsy sample and thus, quite often, have too little sample to perform tissue-based testing, including personalized MRD testing. Even in cases where sufficient tissue is available, preserving precious sample to enable other tests will be an added benefit of Oncocyte’s fully blood-based approach. Assuming the data published to date continues to be validated in future studies, the CNI test will be able to deliver timely results on progression using blood only, with no need for tissue biopsies, at the second treatment cycle. This time frame will deliver valuable information to physicians much faster than currently seen with imaging or tissue-informed technologies.”
The addition of the CNI test to Oncocyte’s portfolio of diagnostic products marks the Company’s entry into blood-based immune-therapy monitoring, a market that is estimated at $3 billion in the United States alone. Ownership of Chronix’s intellectual property portfolio helps establish the foundation for Oncocyte to potentially build additional applications to address an estimated $6 billion U.S. recurrence monitoring market. Further, as approximately 40%-60% of patients fail to see a sustained response to immune checkpoint inhibitors, it is estimated that by 2025, more than $60 billion a year could be misspent on treatments that may never benefit patients.
The acquisition, which includes Chronix’s lab in Germany and its EU-based development and business team, establishes a footprint for the continued development and potential commercial launch of Oncocyte’s proprietary tests in the European market. The Company expects to launch the CNI test as a pharma service in Europe from Germany by the end of the current quarter. After the tech transfer to its U.S. facilities, Oncocyte plans to launch the test for research use only in domestic immune therapy clinical trials during the fourth quarter of this year. The anticipated first indication for use will be in lung cancer, followed by expansion to other cancer types. Further, as the path to reimbursement is already established, Oncocyte plans to demonstrate the comparability of the CNI test to existing reimbursed tests.
Also included in the acquisition are tests and a patent estate for the use of digital PCR to detect transplant rejection in recipients as well as enabling the absolute amount of tumor or donor cell-free DNA, which eliminates the influence of changes in cell-free DNA caused by unrelated reasons making the technique more specific for monitoring. The Company plans to explore the use of the patented methodologies and combine with digital PCR for development of super-sensitive detection of tumor-derived DNA in blood to monitor for long-term recurrence as well as explore licensing this technology and patent estate for transplant to potential partners.
Dr. Ekkehard Schuetz, former CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Chronix and now General Manager and CMO of Oncocyte Europe said, “By becoming part of Oncocyte, we believe our CNI monitoring test, together with DetermaIO, has the potential to become a much more powerful tool for oncologists as they will have a comprehensive solution for two of the biggest challenges in immune therapy: better identifying patients who are most likely to respond to treatment, and then monitoring for treatment efficacy and the development of resistance. The combination of Oncocyte’s proprietary immune therapy selection test and their commercial experience with Chronix’s rich portfolio of tests and IP make the deal clearly a case of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.”
More about CNI and the CNI Monitor Test
- Cancer modifies the normal genome of cells by accumulating mutations and variation in the number of copies of genes in the genome.
- Chronix’s CNI test measures the collective burden of tumor derived copy number variation across the genome in blood as a sensitive, specific and quantifiable measure of tumor burden, i.e., response to therapy or prognosis of cancer.
- CNI is a novel approach to measuring cell-free tumor DNA in blood that does not rely upon sequencing the tumor biopsy specimen (tumor naive vs. tumor informed).
- The proprietary CNI test quantitatively measures the amount of CNV present in blood that has been shed by dying tumor cells.
- The CNI Monitor test monitors the change in CNI over time and is suitable for monitoring patients being treated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy.
- Multiple publications have demonstrated the accuracy of CNI in identifying response or resistance to therapy prior to the second or third cycle of treatment, including a study in Clinical Cancer Research, and the value to assess the prognosis of cancer published for Head & Neck Cancer.