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A snapshot of Congenica

PME talks to CEO David Atkins

Dr David Atkins

In this month’s issue of PME, we take a look at Congenica and talk to CEO, Dr David Atkins (pictured) about the company’s technologies and the obstacles it faces in the biotech sector.

Congenica is a pioneering digital health company enabling genomic medicine with software and services for the analysis and interpretation of complex genomic data.

Our goal is to fully integrate clinical genomics into mainstream healthcare through clinical ease of use and automation of genomic analysis.

The application of our platform to those at risk of rare disease and inherited cancer is already helping clinicians to provide life-changing answers with greater speed and confidence and is now evolving to support wider healthcare indications such as clinical trial outlier analysis.

How is the company advancing life sciences with its technology?

Previously, genetic testing was performed using a series of single gene tests. Clinicians would order a genetic test based on the patient’s clinical presentation and best-guess diagnosis. This approach was costly, time-consuming and often would not result in a definitive diagnosis for the patient.

Congenica empowers healthcare professionals to rapidly interpret genomic data with the ability to interrogate every gene and make important clinical decisions that change lives, all within a single platform.

Rare disease patients typically see multiple specialists and endure a four-to-six-year ‘diagnostic odyssey’ with some never getting to a diagnosis. Receiving a diagnosis can help to facilitate access to treatment and eliminate the need for further tests.

Additionally, there is a reduction in the overall cost that comes with repeated failed diagnostic procedures and inappropriate treatments. Our genome interpretation alone represents a c.95% reduction in staff time and cost.

What makes the company’s technologies stand out in a crowded field?

Our technology is significantly increasing the diagnostic yield and reducing the time to diagnosis in rare and complex diseases. A recent review of over 170 publications reported diagnostic yields in the range of 8-100% depending on disease area, with a median of 33%.

Using data from over 25,000 undiagnosed broad disease cases, Congenica delivered a median diagnostic yield of 43% – the highest performing solution in any comparable analysis.

Scalability is another key factor. A single human genome consists of over 100GB of data. The Congenica platform processes, analyses and interprets thousands of whole genomes per month without any impact on performance – allowing our customers to feel confident they can meet the ever-growing demand for quality genomic analysis.

This capability can be made available to our customers in a range of deployments from cloud-based through to fully independent on- premise installation to serve the increasing need for maintaining genomic sovereignty.

Furthermore, following a competitive tender process involving the leading global providers of genomic data analysis software, Congenica was selected by Genomics England as the exclusive clinical interpretation solution for the ground- breaking national UK NHS Genomic Medicine Service, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Why will the company be successful in the highly competitive biotech field?

We are focused on solving a real problem that everyone faces in genomics – how to provide robust, scalable, repeatable validated workflows that work on whole genomes, exomes and panels to support critical clinical decisions.

Our user experience is class leading, allowing users to conduct their whole workflow in one platform – removing the need to jump from one application to another and eliminating the risk of introducing unwanted errors or missing critical steps in the process.

Another advantage is our experience of supporting biotechs, pharmaceutical companies, commercial labs and hospitals, which means we are uniquely positioned to help share best practices across the industry to advance the use of genomics in healthcare.

We are constantly innovating and adding new capabilities and tools to the platform which enable users to increase their diagnostic yield and benefit from time and cost savings to maximise efficiency.

Finally, in an industry that is driven by genomic and health data we provide users with access to a vast array of public and private databases. More importantly, we operate under the principal of allowing our customers to use their data more effectively.

What practical business issues is the company facing?

Clinical genomics is going through fundamental change, with organisations demanding new capabilities to allow more efficient diagnosis with higher yields as the volume of genomic data increases. As Congenica scales up to meet this growing need we face a number of challenges, including:

  • Recruiting talented and motivated individuals with the right skill sets in a highly competitive industry
  • Working in a fast-moving, evolving market where reimbursement mechanisms lag behind technology development and implementation
  • Ensuring our products and services continue to deliver patient benefit and meet the needs of our customers, accelerating accurate diagnosis and improving clinical outcomes
  • The reliance of our industry on patient data puts an onus on careful governance and use of data – it is essential that the industry operates in a way that can engender trust within customers and patients.

What impact is the planned Brexit having on the company?

Brexit will be difficult for all companies that operate across Europe. On a macro-level, Brexit may make UK businesses less attractive to international talent and customers versus competition, assuming it brings increased regulatory hurdles to overcome.

On a more practical level, given we don’t export or import physical goods, our challenge is likely to be how the management of customer data may change, as we operate a pan-European technology platform.

In planning for a potential Brexit, we have ensured the company has robust quality controls and agreements in place so that we can mitigate the impact of any potential changes in trading laws or data governance.

28th January 2020

28th January 2020

From: Research

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