Seeking Alpha: In Conversation With Cancer Genetics CEO Panna Sharma

Published on: Thursday, June 26th, 2014 View all Articles

As CEO of Cancer Genetics (CGIX), Panna Sharma was attracted to the emerging leader in DNA-based cancer diagnostics and services by its rich heritage in understanding genetic changes and aberrations that have clinical value. A former managing partner and founder of TSG Partners, a specialty life sciences consultancy and advisory company, Mr. Sharma led the development of strategic initiatives, corporate growth strategy and corporate turnarounds for both public and private companies. He also led over 70 buy and sell-side transactions in the healthcare sector. At TSG, he established the Global Diagnostics Index, the Global Biotools Index and several other life science capital markets indices that are still used today. In this interview with, Mr. Sharma discusses how molecular diagnostics is changing the vision of personalized medicine and how Cancer Genetics’ products and services are tailored to the specific genetic profile of the individual to better diagnose and guide treatment decisions in hematologic and urogenital cancers.

Let’s begin with a brief sketch of Cancer Genetics.

Our full-service, go-to-market strategy is focused on three strategic pillars:

First is partnering with community hospitals through our ExpandDx program, which generates about 46% of our revenue today and is experiencing double-digit growth. Eighty-five percent of all U.S. cancer patients are initially diagnosed in community hospitals and laboratories. ExpandDx is designed to help the over 4,000 community hospitals in the U.S. expand their capabilities in genomic testing of complex cancers and keep patients locally

Second, we serve the biotech and pharma industry by helping them with patient selection, stratification and monitoring through our biomarker-based testing for clinical trials. This is currently our fastest growing program, which we have branded SelectOne. Through SelectOne we are developing both companion diagnostic programs for biotechs and also doing extensive genomic profiling for clinical trials for the pharma companies.

Third, we are focusing on the needs for advanced cancer testing and molecular diagnostic products for blood-borne and urogenital cancer in emerging economies through partnerships and distributors. We are putting in place a strong set of regional partners, such as Nikon (OTC:NINOF) in Europe, Dasa in Brazil, Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) in Central and Latin America, Kamenini in India, and Quimilabs in Mexico. These partners provided us with good international exposure which accounted for about 8 percent of our revenue in 2012, and that continues to grow.

Over the past several quarters, we have successfully launched five unique, molecular diagnostic products, three products for leukemia and lymphoma, and two products for renal and cervical cancers. These products have been developed and validated through our research collaborations with world class institutions such as the National Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, University of Iowa, Georgia Health Sciences University, Dana Farber, and Cleveland Clinic. Our unique products also are being incorporated into biopharma’s clinical trials, such as the trials being done in B-cell neoplasms by Gilead (GILD) and in companion diagnostic programs by Roche.

Can you discuss your recent joint venture with Mayo Clinic?

This is something we’re really excited about because the joint venture, OncoSpire Genomics, will improve cancer care by discovering and commercializing diagnostic tests that leverage next-generation sequencing. Next-generation sequencing will change the face of cancer care in the future by moving from platforms to disease-specific applications and we’ll be at the forefront of accelerating cancer biomarker discovery research already underway at Mayo. Our company will be committing operating capital and commercial expertise over the initial three-year period of the joint venture and Mayo will be committing in-kind services and support, the use of their facilities, clinical data and specimens. Over the next couple months, a joint scientific review committee will be announcing three initial projects in key oncology categories for OncoSpire.

Originally Published in Seeking Alpha