Diatech Pharmacogenetics a biotech entrepreneurial reality based in Jesi (Ancona) has sealed an agreement with the American company RainDance Technologies (based near Boston, Massachusetts) to be the exclusive distributor in Italy of RainDrop, an innovative platform for personalized oncology. But what is exactly personalized oncology? We asked this question to Dr. Fabio Biondi, founder and CEO of Diatech Pharmacogenetics.
Dr. Biondi explained that in spite of continuous improvements in early detection techniques and pharmacological treatments, cancer is still the second most frequent cause of mortality in Europe, with an estimated 1.3 million deaths every year, and added that such heavy toll is likely destined to grow if we consider that our continent is house to an ageing population. Although the increasing number of available drugs to treat tumors has improved survival rates and the quality of life of many patients, modern medicine is now investing more and more in development of personalized oncology approaches to improve doctors’ ability to successfully treat cancer. This branch of health care is based on the evidence that cancers deriving from the same anatomical site can no longer be considered biologically similar. On the contrary, many scientific works support that tumors arising from the same organ can differ in many significant ways. Because of these differences, the administration of the same therapy to all patients, simply because their tumors developed in the same organ might not work for everyone. Personalized oncology is the science of understanding the peculiar characteristics of each tumor by looking, for example, at the genetic alterations present in the tumor cells with the aid of molecular biology techniques. In the end, this information will allow the oncologist to provide a treatment strategy based on the peculiar characteristics of the patient’s tumor, a treatment that should result more efficient and increase the chances of survival of the patient.
We also asked Dr. Biondi to comment on the agreement between his company and RainDance Technologies, and how such deal will impact the future of Diatech and personalized oncology in our country. He explained that thanks to its ability to generate more than a billion reactions a day, the RainDrop system outperforms existing technologies in terms of sensitivity, quantitation capabilities and multiplexing (i.e. the analysis of multiple targets at the same time). The combination between the progress in understanding tumor biology and the impressive technical capabilities of the RainDrop platform should strongly facilitate personalized oncology to become a routine approach in laboratories for cancer diagnostics. Not casually in 2014 the RainDrop platform ranked 5th in The Scientist’s annual Top 10 Innovations that promise to revolutionize life sciences.
Born in 1996 out of Dr. Biondi’s passion for molecular biology and its endless applications in diagnostics of human diseases, Diatech Pharmacogenetics is now a unique biotech reality in Italy, with state of the art molecular biology laboratories and 32 employees with diverse backgrounds (one third of which focuses on research and development) but all determined to make a difference in the field of personalized oncology. Among the products available from Diatech there are for instance kits that allow detection of mutations in key genes in metastatic colorectal cancer cells that are responsible for an unfavorable prognosis, used by over 60 centers for cancer diagnostics in Italy. The Group ended 2014 with a consolidated turnover of € 9 million, an increase of 30 % over the previous year. Distribution of the RainDrop platform is estimated to increase Diatech annual revenues of approximately € 3 million.
RainDrop platform now available in Italy speed read:
– Diatech Pharmacogenomics stipulated an agreement with the American company RainDance Technologies to distribute in Italy the RainDrop platform for personalized oncology.
– The implementation of RainDrop technology in laboratories for cancer diagnostics should improve doctors’ ability to identify the most appropriate therapy for cancer patients.
– The deal with RainDance Technologies strengthens Diatech leading role in Italy in producing and distributing platforms for personalized oncology and is estimated to increase the company annual revenues of circa € 3 million.
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