By Kristy Dorsey

A freshly-minted spin-out business from the University of Glasgow has signed a licensing agreement with genomic analysis specialist Congenica to create a platform for targeting and tailoring cancer treatment.

Set up earlier this year, Gabriel Precision Oncology has developed software designed specifically to examine the genomics of cancer patients. This covers the interpretation of how all an individual’s genes interact with one another to identify their combined influence on that person’s health.

Cambridge-based Congenica already has similar technology used in the identification and treatment of rare diseases. Working with Gabriel, the company will expand its genomic interpretation platform to include somatic cancer – cancer caused by genetic mutations, which is the most common cause of the disease.

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Gabriel was founded by Professor Andrew Biankin, Dr Susanna Cooke and Dr Philip Beer, who between them have extensive expertise in cancer genomics and therapeutic development in both academic and commercial fields.

“At the moment, too few patients have access to advanced molecular cancer diagnostics and as a consequence miss out on potential treatments and clinical trials,” Prof Biankin said. “A distributed model where laboratories and health systems around the world can do their own tests for their own patients using a standardised and comparable analytical platform will allow more patients to access precision medicine.

“Congenica’s technology is market-leading in terms of the rapid interpretation of genomic data and working together we believe that our platform will enable many more cancer patients to access new treatments.”

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Founded on research from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the NHS, Congenica’s software enables rapid data analysis at scale, performing 20 times faster than industry averages and providing a 30 per cent higher analytical yield. Together, it is claimed this reduces the cost of genomic interpretation by up to 95%.

The company has a global footprint supporting leading international laboratories, academic medical centres and biopharmaceutical companies. It is also the exclusive clinical decision support partner for the NHS Genomic Medicine Service.

“This collaboration signifies the expansion of Congenica’s product platform into somatic cancer, a disease area which we believe can significantly benefit from our platform,” vice president Freddie Sharkey said.

“Gabriel brings together extensive international genomics expertise and its platform has been developed specifically to work with tumour-derived DNA. We look forward to working with Gabriel to further incorporate clinical genomics into routine cancer care.”