Exact Sciences expanding cancer diagnostics capabilities with $190M acquisition

Exact Sciences

Exact Sciences says the $190 million acquisition of Marshfield-based PreventionGenetics will expand its cancer diagnostics capabilities. 

The move also sets up the Madison company’s entrance into the field of hereditary cancer testing, which focuses on detecting heritable genetic mutations that could increase the risk of developing certain cancers. 

“With our deep relationships in primary care and PreventionGenetics’ strong reputation among genetics specialists, Exact Sciences can help more people understand their inherited risk of cancer to catch it earlier and treat it more effectively,” Kevin Conroy, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. 

PreventionGenetics is a DNA testing laboratory that provides more than 5,000 genetic tests for “nearly all” clinically relevant genes, as well as whole genome sequencing services. Founded in 2004, the business currently employs 25 geneticists. Following the acquisition, Exact Sciences says it will look to expand hereditary cancer and genetic testing “throughout the U.S. and globally.” 

Meanwhile, Exact Sciences also recently announced a new exclusive license agreement with OncXerna Therapeutics, through which Exact will be able to offer the Massachusetts-based company’s gene expression lab services to customers. The Xerna TME Panel can help identify which patients might benefit from immunotherapies and other treatments using gene expression data and a machine learning program, a release shows. 

These results can help patients and their doctors who are “facing difficult therapy selection decisions,” the release shows. They can also be used by other pharmaceutical companies to select patients for therapeutic programs. Exact says it will offer the new panel as part of its comprehensive genetic sequencing test called GEM ExTra. 

Matt Franklin, general manager of precision oncology for Exact, says immunotherapy is becoming more important for cancer treatment. But he points to a “critical unmet need” for oncologists to be able to predict how patients will react to treatments before they begin. 

“The immunotherapy prediction ability of OncXerna’s Xerna TME Panel, coupled with the comprehensive profiling capabilities of Exact Sciences’ GEM ExTra test, has the potential to significantly impact patient outcomes,” he said. 

–By Alex Moe