​In pending launch of cancer test, Exosome learns from Foundation Medicine’s example

from Boston Business Journal by

We first heard the story of the potential for new diagnostics companies in 2013, when Foundation Medicine went public in a wave of investor optimism with a test that promised to advance the use of precision medicine in the treatment of cancers. But the Cambridge-based company hit roadblocks in the past two years, as it struggled to get insurers to pay for its tests.

Now there’s a new Cambridge diagnostic-maker with a similar type of test aimed at identifying gene markers of cancer. But Tom McLain, CEO of Exosome Diagnostics, says Foundation Medicine (Nasdaq: FMI) has served as “a good study of what’s going on in the market” as the reimbursement environment changes.

“There are lots of things that we’re learning as we go forward that I think can position us to move very quickly as these things become defined,” he said.

Exosome, which has 14 of its 25 employees at its Cambridge headquarters, aims to launch the first of what it hopes will be several diagnostic tests later this year that analyze liquid (rather than solid) samples from the body. So-called liquid biopsy tests are not new: Billerica-based RainDance Technologies (which recently nixed plans to go public, citing “market conditions”), Redwood City, Calif.-based Guardant Health and Baltimore-based PGDX are currently in the same field. The obvious advantage over tests that require solid tissue samples is that liquid biopsies (which can use blood, urine, saliva or other samples) don’t require the surgical removal. But McLain says Exosome’s approach is different from other current methods in that it’s able to detect changes in the way a cancer is adapting to overcome current treatments.

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