Illumina, Roche tout sequencing tie-up | Oncotype DX branches out | AI makes headway in colon, prostate cancers

Dear LabPulse Member,

Every year in January,'s hometown of San Francisco gets occupied by the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the ultimate annual networking event for the bustling global biopharma and device industry. In addition to the main J.P. Morgan meeting, satellite events have sprouted up in the city's hotels over the years.

It's a time for wheeling and dealing, crowding cheek to cheek in small spaces, getting soaked in the rain, lavish spending, and nighttime party hopping at the city's top restaurants and art galleries. Key announcements for 2020 include a new 15-year partnership related to next-generation sequencing between Illumina and Roche, which was unveiled on January 13. The companies said the deal will accelerate the adoption of next-generation sequencing for the treatment of cancer patients.

As part of the tie-up, Roche said that it will work with Illumina on companion diagnostic claims for Illumina's TruSight Oncology 500 pancancer test. Illumina often takes advantage of the J.P. Morgan meeting to release new sequencing systems, and this year it unveiled NextSeq 1000 and NextSeq 2000, which the company said will support expansion of the technology at a lower cost suitable for any size lab.

Meanwhile, developments in personalizing treatment for individual cancer patients are ongoing. Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) investigators reported promising results in JAMA Oncology from a retrospective study of the Oncotype DX 21-gene Breast Recurrence Score test (Genomic Health/Exact Sciences) for a new role in guiding the use of radiation therapy. It could be that women with lower-risk breast cancer may be unnecessarily getting regional radiotherapy and that testing could help show who really benefits -- and who does not. More research is needed, and time will tell.

Another fertile and headline-grabbing area of clinical testing research is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to cancer detection. Recently published studies covered the use of new technologies in cancers of the colon and prostate.

Researchers in Europe found excellent performance for an AI system in differentiating benign from cancerous findings in prostate cancer biopsies. And in a separate study from China, a machine-learning platform had high accuracy for identifying colorectal cancer in circulating tumor DNA samples. More data are needed for both approaches, but so far, the results look promising, the researchers reported.

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