Horizon Diagnostics (HorizonDx), a division of Cambridge-based personalised medicines pioneer Horizon Discovery, is working on a new initiative focusing on lung cancer.The UK company has signed a strategic partnership agreement with UK NEQAS (the UK National External Quality Assessment Service) – a leader in diagnostic proficiency assessment.
The partnership will focus on the development of genetically defined reference standards for novel lung cancer biomarkers.
HorizonDx is the first company to provide human genomic reference standards containing defined allelic ratios, offering an unprecedented level of control to the diagnostics industry.
The reference materials will be used to minimise variability involved in FISH and IHC based diagnostic testing, to guide prescription of targeted cancer therapies.
Under the terms of the agreement, UK NEQAS ICC will receive an exclusive licence to distribute reference standards related to certain lung cancer biomarkers in the UK and in Europe for the sole purpose of proficiency testing within its quality assessment programme.
Dr Paul Morrill, commercial director, Horizon Discovery, said: “Newly discovered mutations are rapidly shaping how and when novel cancer therapies are prescribed, and quality assurance for diagnostics is a key factor in the prescription of these therapies.
“Through this partnership with UK NEQAS, we look forward to seeing our genetically defined reference standards adopted in proficiency schemes and as batch controls, ultimately helping to improve the accuracy of diagnostic testing for patients.”
Keith Miller, Director of UK NEQAS ICC, added: “Horizon’s application of its gene editing technology in development of reference standards is ideally suited to diagnostics proficiency testing. We look forward to working with them as the field of cancer therapeutics moves increasingly toward a more personalised approach.”
The partnership is announced following HorizonDx’s launch of a suite of genetically-defined fixed formalin, paraffin embedded (FFPE) cell line standards in September 2011.
These cell lines contain defined stoichiometric ratios of, among others, the seven variants of the K-Ras oncogene, for which testing is required to determine individual drug treatment regimens for colorectal cancer patients.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Dr Paul Morrill