Good Genes

Marilyn HawkesMarch 14, 2019
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Valley genomics companies aim to use DNA for everything from cancer treatment to skin care.

Photo courtesy Advanced Genomic Solutions
Photo courtesy Advanced Genomic Solutions

The rising popularity of DNA testing kits has shed new light on the role of genetics and genomics in the discovery and treatment of heritable diseases. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but differ in meaning. Genetics deals with heredity and “scrutinizes the functioning and composition of a single gene,” according to the World Health Organization, while genomics evaluates a person’s complete genetic package, potentially helping physicians tailor health and wellness treatments to individuals, including cancer regimens. The Valley is home to several companies that specialize in these fields – for research and for profit.

City of Hope & TGen
In November 2018, City of Hope, an independent cancer center in Duarte, California, and the Valley’s Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced a letter of intent to build a state-of-the-art cell therapy manufacturing facility in Phoenix focusing on stem cell research and cancer treatment. The future facility will produce chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells used to induce remission in blood cancers. No date or location has been set.

Advanced Genomic Solutions
In November 2018, Scottsdale’s Advanced Genomic Solutions (AGS) launched the AGS Skin Health Genetic Test to help consumers understand their genetic predisposition to certain skin conditions and seek more personalized treatment. The test identifies an individual’s ability to create collagen and assesses risk of wrinkles and premature aging.

Viomics, a molecular diagnostic company based in Phoenix, has developed LungVantage, an early detection test for lung cancer currently in clinical trials at hospitals across the United States. The test can detect lung cancer with close to 90 percent accuracy.

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