NantHealth is starting to see greater insurance coverage for its molecular profile diagnostic test, GPS Cancer. The Culver City, Calif.-based company, which filed for an initial public offering earlier this week, needs to demonstrate that its approach to personalized medicine has commercial applications.
In its six-year history, NantHealth has accumulated losses approaching $300 million. Its commercial success depends on its ability to market GPS Cancer and its complementary big-data platform, which can match patients to clinical trials based on their cancer's molecular expression.
The test is now getting coverage from self-insured employers Bank of America, Sanford Health and Phoenix Children's Hospital. Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross became the first insurer to offer GPS Cancer earlier this year.
GPS Cancer is unique from other genome sequencing tests in that it can measure 3 billion genome base pairs, making it more comprehensive and “a completely brand-new innovation,” said NantHealth CEO Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who invented the cancer drug Abraxane. It combines DNA and RNA sequencing and also measures downstream proteins.
In that way, it can be used to predict how patients will respond to certain cancer drugs, like paclitaxel, the generic name for Abraxane. It has a turnaround time of less than 21 days.
“People are starting to see the value of this test,” Soon-Shiong said. “We've now put this test into clinical activity.”
The company also hopes that knowledge gleaned from GPS Cancer could one day be used to develop a cancer vaccine. NantHealth is one of the founding members of the National Immunotherapy Coalition's Cancer MoonShot 2020 network, which aims to develop an immunotherapy vaccine by 2020.
By comparing the tumor genome to the patient's genome, researchers could one day create a vaccine that could prompt an immune response against cancer cells.
Soon-Shiong declined to discuss the company's business strategy, citing the quiet period leading up to its IPO.