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Mayo Clinic spinoff lauded for innovation

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Fast Company magazine recently named a young Mayo Clinic spinoff firm to its top 50 Most Innovative list along with giants like Apple and Amazon.

Mayo Clinic helped launch the genetic testing company OneOme in 2014. The firm tests patients’ genetic makeup to match which of more than 350 prescription drugs will be the most effective for them.

"We partnered with three scientists out of Mayo and built the company together," said CEO Paul Owen. The Minneapolis-based company still licenses technology for Mayo Clinic, which has a financial interest in OneOme.

In January 2017, OneOme’s testing service RightMed hit the market. It has signed more than 40 health system institutional pricing contracts to use its tests to match a patient with the medicine most likely to work for them. Mayo Clinic uses the test at all three primary campuses and its health system sites.

"Our growth is extremely positive," Owen said. "And large insurance companies becoming increasingly more interested in individualized medicine like our test, and we think that’s important."

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Fast Company magazine also is interested in OneOme’s approach. It added OneOme to its annual list of the 50 most innovative companies in the world at No. 22. The top spot went to Apple followed by Netflix, SapceX, Spotify, Marvel Studios and many lesser-known firms also made the list.

OneOme was chosen, in part, for the new ground it has broken in the field of pharmacogenomics and individualized medicine with its $349 test.

The process starts with a simple swapping of the inside of a patient’s cheek. The swab is sent to OneOme’s lab in northwest Minneapolis and 23 genes are then tracked. That information is then cross-referenced with data on more than 250 medications. Many are used in the treatment of mental health conditions, like depressions. Others are used in cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

Results are sent back within three days, though Owen says they are working to get that turnaround time down to 36 hours.

The standard process to chose the best medication for a patient before genetic testing was simply trial and error over a period of weeks or even months.

"We’re able to identify the different metabolic pathways that will be affected by those different genes and that medication to find the best fit," Owen explained.

OneOme soon will expand the number of genes it tracks to 27 to further add its potential benefit for patients and their physicians.

One key part of the young company’s service is providing clear and concise results to doctors and pharmacists via its online platform called RightMed Advisor. It was co-developed with Mayo Clinic, which holds the exclusive rights.

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With the deluge of information facing physicians today, Owen said "having simplified information easily at their fingertips is very important."

OneOme is not the only biotechnology firm linked to Mayo Clinic that made Fast Company’s top 50 innovation list. California-based AliveCor, which offers heart-monitoring devices and software, developed much of its offerings with Mayo Clinic. It made the list in the 20th spot.

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