NOVEMBER 04, 2020, NEW YORK – Two companies co-founded by Ludwig researchers are to be acquired by Madison, Wisconsin-based Exact Sciences, according to an announcement made by the company on October 27.
Ludwig Cancer Research spin-off Base Genomics, a biotechnology company dedicated to the development of molecular diagnostics for the therapeutic monitoring and early detection of cancer, was acquired for $410 million.
Base Genomics was launched in June 2020 with a license granted by Ludwig Cancer Research to commercialize a technology, TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS), developed in the laboratory of Chunxiao Song at the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. TAPS is a new method for mapping DNA methylation, a chemical—or epigenetic—modification made to cytosine bases in DNA that plays an important role in regulating gene expression. The aberrant distribution of methyl marks is a common feature of cancer genomes and contributes to disease progression and resistance to therapy across a variety of malignancies.
“I am thrilled that the TAPS technology developed in my lab has received this level of investment. We can now proceed much more rapidly to fully leverage the power of this technology for cancer detection and patient benefit,” said Song, Assistant Member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Oxford Branch.
TAPS is suited to applications such as liquid biopsies, which detect cancer by analyzing vanishingly small traces of DNA shed by tumors into the blood stream and other fluids. Further, the epigenetic information captured by TAPS can be used to both detect cancers and pinpoint their tissues of origin—a key challenge in the development of liquid biopsies. Song’s lab continues to develop TAPS to expand its applications to the epigenetic analysis of genomes.
“I am delighted that with this acquisition of Base Genomics, we are a step closer to seeing the TAPS technology strengthen the application of liquid biopsies to the early detection of cancer in patients,” said Jonathan Skipper, executive vice president for technology development at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. “This is an example of Ludwig’s continuing efforts to move benchtop discoveries into the commercial sphere, where they can be of great benefit to cancer patients.”
Along with its acquisition of Basic Genomics, Exact Sciences also announced it will purchase Thrive Earlier Detection for $2.15 billion.
Thrive was co-founded by Ludwig Johns Hopkins Co-directors Bert Vogelstein and Kenneth Kinzler and investigator Nickolas Papadopoulos to commercialize a multi-cancer liquid biopsy, CancerSEEK, that was developed with Ludwig support. The team has also received support for the development of its early detection technology from a joint cancer prevention initiative supported by Ludwig and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Ludwig is pleased to witness the commercialization of these potentially groundbreaking technologies and hopeful that it will contribute significantly to the improvement of therapeutic outcomes for cancer patients.