Mayo Clinic partnership to advance personalized medicine

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Mayo Clinic has announced a strategic partnership with diagnostics company Silicon Valley Biosystems (SV Bio) to advance personalized medicine through genomics.

The arrangement sounds similar to one planned by Children's Hospital Boston and gene-sequencing giant Life Technologies, in which the tech company will provide the platform and the healthcare organization will offer clinical and laboratory expertise.

SV Bio, which just emerged from stealth mode, will provide clinical genome interpretation services and clinical decision support interfaces, according to an announcement. The plan calls for whole genome diagnostics and interpretation at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine and Mayo Medical Laboratories. Financial terms of the deal were not release.

SV Bio founder and CEO Dietrich Stephan told FierceMedicalDevices last week that its plan is to bring gene sequencing to the masses after the industry has spent more than a decade on it with mixed results.

"Our goal is to democratize this information to make it easy for physicians to understand so it becomes pervasive, and so patients can benefit," Stephan said. "It is the fault of diagnostics companies that they haven't made it easy enough, so we're going to fix that."

Stephan added that the company's diagnostic technology can perform DNA sequencing within a few weeks, and then profile dozens of diseases within a matter of minutes, with clinical-grade sensitivity and specificity.

He predicted that that within a decade, everyone will have their genome presequenced and archived in their electronic medical record as a resource that healthcare providers can access repeatedly over time. For that to happen, though, vast improvements will be required to ensure patient privacy. Recent research showing that patients--and their relatives--can be identified from "anonymous" pooled data in public genetics databases has raised alarm in that regard.

This is the second partnership announcement this month for Mayo Clinic. Under a new initiative called Optum Labs, it's establishing a data-mining venture involving UnitedHealth's insurance claims for more than 109 million people and records of its own 5 million patients.

Optum Labs will not be a money-making venture, but a "dedicated research unit" dedicated to improving patient care, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said.

To learn more:
- here's the Mayo Clinic announcement

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