Human Longevity Inc. (HLI)  unveiled an oncology genomics program that includes the development of products for comprehensive whole germline and tumor genome analysis, as well as for tumor and germline exome analysis.

“We’re trying to get the exome program—doing the tumor and the patient’s germline—under $1,000. We’re doing a trial, and we’ll see,” J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., HLI’s co-founder and CEO, told GEN this afternoon.

The comprehensive whole germline and cancer genome product, which Dr. Venter said is $25,000 per patient, will be able to sequence a patient’s germline to 30x coverage, as compared to their tumor genome, which will be sequenced to 90x coverage.

HLI said it will use RNA sequencing technology on tumors to understand the expression of mutated genes, as well as Adaptive Biotechnologies’ immunoSEQ Assay to sequence the patient’s T-cell repertoire.

The sequencing efforts are designed to yield a fully annotated genome report on all findings for patients and clinicians that compares a patient’s cancer genome to the germline genome. The analysis is intended to offer insight into the tumor mutations that can guide treatment decisions including immunotherapy, targeted molecular therapies, and other clinical trials.

The whole germline analysis identifies variants that may predispose an individual to certain types of cancer.

“We’ll use (Illumina HiSeq) XTens for the comprehensive cancer program. We’ve done 20,000 genomes in 30x to 40x coverage with the XTens. We’ll also use (HiSeq) 4000s for the exome program,”

Dr. Venter said HLI is currently able to sequence 35,000 human genomes per year, but added that the throughput of the sequencers is soon expected to double.

“There is a strong need for a new and cost-effective cancer genome product because most insurance companies aren’t generally covering these kinds of tests. We believe our science and technology should offer more informed treatment options for a large number of patients and their physicians,” Dr. Venter said in HLI’s statement announcing the oncology program.

In the statement, HLI added that it is also testing liquid biopsy technology to detect circulating free tumor DNA and circulating tumor cells. Several companies are developing liquid biopsy technologies; Illumina on Sunday launched GRAIL, a new company formed to develop an early-detection screening test for cancers by measuring circulating tumor DNA in the blood.

Dr. Venter outlined HLI’s oncology program today during a presentation at the JPMorgan 34th Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. He and two co-founders launched HLI in 2014 with the goal of creating the world's largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype, and clinical data. The company aims to develop and apply large-scale computing and machine learning to make discoveries intended to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

HLI works with customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, insurance, academic, and government sectors.

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