Vikor Scientific, Quantgene Partner on Groundbreaking Advance in Precision GenomicsFeb 17, 2021 11:36AM ● By David Dykes
(Pictured above: Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific )
By Liv Osby
Could a single drop of blood alert your doctor that you have cancer in its earliest stages when it’s most treatable?
Developers of a new medical technology say yes.
Executives from Vikor Scientific, of Charleston, SC, and Quantgene, of Santa Monica, CA, announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that they have partnered to develop and market technology that combines liquid biopsy cancer detection with deep genome sequencing and advanced artificial intelligence that is able to detect 15 cancers from a traditional blood test.
Vikor co-founder Scotty Branch told Charleston Business Magazine that the test would be part of typical preventive screenings. And once confirmed, the cancer could be treated early without the use of conventional chemotherapy, he said.
“The future of science is now upon us. The whole premise is early detection, before you form a tumor,” he said. “It would alert us that a tumor has the potential to or is forming. And early detection would save lives.”
Quantgene developed the technology, known as Serenity, which uses deep genomic sequencing across all 20,000 genes for a more complete picture of disease, while Vikor, which has grown from 25 to 400 employees in the last 18 months, will be marketing it to physicians across the country beginning March 1, Branch said.
Quantgene CEO Jo Bhakdi said his company pushes the boundaries of the technology and is leading the way to precision medicine on a new level.
“We have introduced a platform that allows trained physicians to take a blood sample and detect signals for multiple cancers,” he said, “ … and unlock that new era of medicine.”
Vikor co-founder Shea Harrelson said the technology will be able to detect aggressive cancers, such as pancreatic, liver or stomach cancers, which are also often caught in the later stages when they are harder to treat.
“This will change the way we approach cancer forever,” she said.
The test costs between $1,700 and $2,000 and is offered on a concierge level now, Branch said. But it should be available to the general public soon, he added.
Because it would save costly cancer care, it’s hoped that insurers will see the economic benefits and cover it eventually, he said.
The test will also be able to detect other chronic diseases eventually, he added.
The two companies were brought together by SCBIO, the Palmetto State’s life sciences group, and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Branch said, noting that the partnership initially means another 30 to 50 jobs in Charleston.
“Jo was looking for an engine like us to market what he had built,” Branch said. “Our success here got his attention.”
The announcement was made at SCBIO’s virtual “The Power of Us” conference attended by more than 500 industry leaders from across the US and around the world.
With more than 800 companies, life sciences is a rapidly growing industry in South Carolina which has seen a doubling of companies and a 40-percent increase in employment since 2017, according to the group.
Sam Kondurous, CEO of SCBIO, called the new technology “a game changer” in the medical space.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of an industry that is saving lives and improving quality of care,” he said.