liquid biopsy


Liquid Biopsy for Infectious Disease with Mickey Kertesz, Karius

Sequencing goes to the world of infectious disease.

Building on the work with cell free DNA in prenatal diagnostics and cancer genomics, the team out of Steve Quake’s lab that brought us Moleculo has now launched a new company in infectious disease called Karius. In today’s interview, Karius CEO and co-founder, Mickey Kertesz, recalls the day four years ago when a clinician urgently contacted he and his team with an infected patient that could not be diagnosed by any traditional method. The team took on the case, and though the patient died within a couple days--Mickey recalls the Saturday when the team heard—they went on working on the diagnosis.

“We were very focused and went on fixing the software as if not wanting to believe what we heard.”

After a week the team did arrive at a diagnosis which was confirmed by the autopsy. That patient became patient zero, and the event turned Mickey again into an entrepreneur.

"This was not just cool research, this needs to go quickly into patient and clinician hands,” he thought.

Today Karius is an active company, selling their tests to hospitals around the country, working first on the most difficult cases.

Will these diagnostic tests by sequencing replace the traditional blood tests some day?

“Oh yeah. In a few years, this will be the first line of defense," Mickey says.

After CMS Announcement, Peter Maag and CareDx Fight for Life

By listening to him, you wouldn’t know that Peter Maag, the CEO of CareDx, was fighting to keep his company from the brink. We booked Peter for the show after news came out that CMS was once again threatening to lower reimbursement rates of established diagnostic tests.

Peter sounds remarkably positive in the face of the recent announcement by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that, come January, they would be cutting the reimbursement rate for CareDx's Allomap test by 70%. Because the test is used mostly by Medicare patients, this cut could threaten the company's very existence.

Why is this happening? Ten years ago, yes . . . but why is CMS still jerking diagnostics companies around when these products offer the very promise that President Obama talked about when he announced the Precision Medicine Initiative?

CareDx and the other companies, such as well known Genomic Health and Veractye, have thirty days to reply. Peter has some strong voices backing him up and is optimistic about getting the disastrous change negated.

He’s also very happy about a new test CareDx is working on using cell free DNA from not only heart transplant recipients but also for the transplant organs as well.

If diagnostics companies could focus more on their new products and less on continually fighting for a dime over a nickel with CMS, the future of precision medicine would be much brighter.



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