New cancer test is patient-friendly

By Jeff Hansel

A biotech company has reached a deal with Mayo Clinic for intellectual property rights to a new screening test for deadly colorectal cancer.

Exact Sciences also "closed an $8.2 million private placement of 4.3 million shares of its common stock."

"The collaborative relationship with Mayo Clinic is focused on developing patient-friendly diagnostics that reduce deaths from colorectal cancer," the company’s Web site says.


About 112,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, according to The test can detect both precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer, without a colonoscopy, according to Mayo, making it an attractive alternative, and a potential financial windfall for both Exact and Mayo.

Exact now has "exclusive rights to intellectual property" developed by Dr. David Ahlquist, Exact announced.

"The licensed patents cover advances in sample processing, analytical testing and data analysis associated with non-invasive, stool-based DNA screening for colorectal cancer," the company says.

Mayo announced at Digestive Disease Week in Chicago this month that Ahlquist’s team "demonstrated that a noninvasive screening test can detect not only colorectal cancer but also the common cancers above the colon — including pancreas, stomach, biliary and esophageal cancers."

"Historically," Ahlquist said in a Mayo announcement at that time, "we’ve approached cancer screening one organ at a time. Stool DNA testing could shift the strategy of cancer screening to multi-organ, whole-patient testing and could also open the door to early detection of cancers above the colon which are currently not screened. The potential impact of this evolution could be enormous."

"Under the license agreement, Exact will make up-front, milestone and royalty payments to Mayo Clinic, and will provide funding for future work in Dr. Ahlquist’s lab," says the company’s announcement. Exact calls itself "a molecular diagnostics company focused on colorectal cancer."

Reporter Jeff Hansel covers health for the Post-Bulletin. Read his blog, Pulse on Health, at

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