Dx Deals Roundup: Pact Aims to Improve Prostate Cancer Detection Among Hispanic Males
More aggressive use of artificial intelligence may mitigate issues that lead to the uneven impact of the disease on this group.
The December-January period tends to be slow in terms of dealmaking, although one pact could wind up putting laboratory testing for prostate cancer on a whole new path.
That appears to be the intent of ArteraAI, the San Francisco-based creator of numerous AI-focused predictive and prognostic cancer tests. It recently announced a research deal with Puerto Rican laboratory CorePlus that is intended to tweak ArteraAI’s prostate cancer test to work more effectively among Hispanics (Latinos/Latinx) in the United States.1
“Working with CorePlus allows us to enhance our diversity efforts, providing a unique opportunity to conduct comprehensive analytical validation of our models across diverse ethnic groups,” said ArteraAI chief executive officer Andre Esteva, in a press release.1
Although it develops fairly slowly and can be addressed with surgery and other treatments, prostate cancer kills roughly 35,000 Americans each year.2 Of particular risk are Hispanics. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among this group other than skin cancer. And while the incidence of prostate cancer among Hispanics is about 9 percent lower than White men, they are significantly less likely to undergo regular screening compared to other ethnic groups. They are also more likely to undergo a radical prostatectomy than undergo radiation treatment. Mortality rates among Puerto Rican men are higher than those of Black men, who have the highest overall death rate.3
CorePlus said it has utilized an AI algorithm on approximately 10,000 Hispanic men. That data will be used to help further train its AI models and be incorporated into ArteraAI’s prostate cancer test.
“This research agreement provides a strong step forward in increasing understanding of differences and reducing disparities in access to precision diagnostics, creating more equitable and personalized care for prostate cancer patients,” said CorePlus CEO Mariano de Socarraz in the press release announcing the deal.1
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. ArteraAI declined to respond to questions regarding the pact.
Randy Vince, MD, a urologist and director of minority men’s health at University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH, said the collaboration is a step in the right direction.
“Overall, precision medicine has left specific communities in the dark, meaning that only a select group of patients benefited from precision medicine testing,” he said in an email. “Additionally, when developing precision medicine testing platforms, certain populations of men like Black, Indigenous, and specific populations of Latinx men have not been included in the validation trials. So, this agreement will ensure that Latinx men are included in the data collection process and have access to testing.”
Diana Londoño, MD, a urologic surgeon affiliated with the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA, noted that many other barriers to testing still need to be addressed, such as discomfort with rectal exams and misinformation about whether a prostate biopsy can cause cancer to spread.
“If AI makes more men aware or willing to seek screening or treatment, then that is a great use of the technology,” she said.
Artificial intelligence’s ability to analyze data may provide the opportunity to address current gaps in precision medicine testing for minority groups who may be particularly vulnerable to a specific type of disease. The ArteraAI-CorePlus research agreement may be an indicator of similar deals to come.
Here’s a summary of key strategic diagnostic deals announced in the period from December 2023 through mid-January 2024:
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Asset Sales
|Natera has acquired certain assets from Invitae’s non-invasive prenatal screening and cancer screening product lines for $10 million. Invitae may receive future milestone payments and litigation-related credits totaling an additional $42.5 million.
|Intermountain Precision Genomics
|Myriad Genetics has entered into an agreement to acquire Intermountain Precision Genomics’ (IPG’s) CLIA-certified lab in St. George, Utah, as well as IPG’s Precise™ Tumor Test and Precise Liquid Test. The deal is expected to close in February. Terms were not disclosed.
|Steward Health Care System
|Quest Diagnostics has continued to consolidate hospital laboratory outreach assets. It announced in early January that it is acquiring the outreach business in Pennsylvania and Ohio of the Steward Health Care system. Based in Dallas, the for-profit Steward operates 33 hospitals in eight states. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Quest said that Steward’s outreach business in Ohio and Pennsylvania will be handled by its full-service lab in Pittsburgh.
|Roche has entered an agreement to acquire LumiraDX’s point-of-care testing division for a minimum of $295 million, with an additional $55 million available to fund the operation of that division until the deal closes, which is expected to happen in mid-2024.
Strategic Alliances, Partnerships, and Collaborations
|• Objective: To develop automated applications to conduct large-scale multiomics experiments with greater efficiency.
• Dynamic: BD will deliver BD Rhapsody™ Single-Cell Analysis Library Preparation Reagent Kits to be performed on the Hamilton Microlab® NGS STAR™ robotic liquid-handling platform
|• Objective: To study the potential of wearable devices to improve metabolic health.
• Dynamic: Fitbit will recruit 1,500 of its users to provide three months worth of device data. Quest will provide “health insights” from its tests.
|• Objective: Quest and Ultima Genomics are collaborating on improving Ultima’s next-generation sequencing technology in oncology for solid-tumor minimal residual disease and other clinical areas.
• Dynamic: Ultima to provide its UG 100™ System, which can sequence an entire genome for $100. Quest will use the device to provide oncology testing.
|• Objective: To develop a minimal residual disease in vitro diagnostic to determine patient eligibility to participate in a clinical trial for new treatments for large B-cell lymphoma.
• Dynamic: Foresight will use its PhasED-Seq™ ctDNA-MRD platform to identify patients. Allogene will help enlist patients to participate in the study.
|• Objective: Further validate ArteraAI’s prostate cancer test in the Hispanic population
• Dynamic: CorePlus to provide ArteraAI access to its extensive database of Hispanic patients
|• Objective: To improve detection and surveillance of prostate cancer.
• Dynamic: ClearNote’s epigenomic cancer detection platform will be used to further Bayer’s research into how prostate cancer develops and progresses.
|• Objective: To bring AI to precision medicine in Australia.
• Dynamic: ArteraAI’s platform will be used to assist GenesisCare in providing more targeted therapies to its cancer patients.
|• Objective: To expand distribution of the SkylineDx Merlin™ test for early-stage melanoma, which is able to calculate risk on an individual basis through a combination analysis of eight genes from the patient’s primary tumor, the tumor thickness, and the patient’s age.
• Dynamic: Skyline will provide the test, while Tempus will use its AI platform to improve it further.
No significant licensing deals were made during the period.
|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
|ATCC has received a five-year, $87 million contract from the HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help develop countermeasures to future public health threats in the US. These measures would include next-generation vaccines and therapeutics.
Subscribe to view Essential
Start a Free Trial for immediate access to this article