Multiplicom offers molecular diagnostics products, focused on human genetics, oncology and prenatal testing. The company was built on a technology that came from the University of Antwerp and VIB, allowing multiplexing on a very high level. They combined this technology with Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), resulting in convenient and reliable products, enabling a simplified workflow for all laboratories who want to implement molecular diagnostic tests within these fields.
Multiplicom is constantly expanding its product range. Human genetics was implemented in 2011, oncology tissue testing in 2013, and prenatal testing was brought to the market last year.
Multiplicom offers genetic tests for predisposition for cancer and specic monogenic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. They create library preparations targeted to specic genes that are indicative for certain diseases. Luc Segers, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Multiplicom, comments: “In the beginning, we only provided the library preparation, but now we are also involved in the analysis of the data. Companies can upload their sequencing data (the FAST-Q file) on our server, which does the analysis for them. Based on these results, laboratories can make a diagnosis. The complete process from sample to result takes 2.5 days on average.” These diagnostic tests work with an Illumina as well as with a Life Tech apparatus.
The company also creates diagnostic tests to analyze tumors. Based on the mutation results, a certain treatment decision can be made. Tissue as well as liquid biopsies from tumors can be examined. “The biggest challenge for liquid biopsies is the sensitivity,” mentions Segers. “The cell-free tumor DNA in the blood is less than 1%, which is very low for detection. However, we have set up a program to optimize the whole library preparation, which makes it technically possible to detect these low levels.” The test consists of a panel of 3 to 5 genes, present in tumors causing the 5 major druggable cancers, i.e., prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer. “We also have a product that targets 26 ‘hotspot’ genes in tumors. With these panels, we can do 90% of what a pathology lab can.”
In October 2015, Multiplicom launched a CE-marked non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT). This test only
requires a blood sample from the mother, which always contains a small amount of baby DNA, for the
detection of trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. Segers says: “The reaction to
the test was overwhelming. The interest is very high, the test is well received by gynecologists and
laboratories. The adoption of NIPT in the clinical practice is happening now.”
For the development of its assays, Multiplicom cooperates with different universities and research
groups, such as the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Antwerp (Prof. Dr. C. Vrints,
Dr. J. Saenen, Prof. Dr. B. Loeys and Prof. Dr. Lut Van Laer) and universities in France, Germany and
Switzerland. Multiplicom also cooperated with AstraZeneca for the validation of the BRCA panel for
the treatment of ovarian cancer with their PARP inhibitor.
What's more next to NIPT?
Multiplicom is currently working on a new pipeline of products concerning organ transplantation.
For example, they are making products to monitor the free-floating DNA of the donor organ in the
blood of a patient, which is a measure for the acceptance of the donor organ. “The more free-floating
DNA of the donor organ that can be found in the blood, the more likely that the organ will be
rejected, and this can be seen in a very early stage,” explains Segers.
“We are broadening our solution to the customer by making more data analysis solutions. Moreover,
Multiplicom is expanding geographically. Last year we initiated activities in the US, and from this year
on, we will have the first customer running our products in a routine way over there.”
“An IPO? That is not incorporated in our plans yet,” continues Segers. “We are still growing thanks to
the funding from our current investors. This, in combination with the revenues from our product
sales, allows us to sustain this path. We are definitely open to cooperating with more partners in the
future. We are exploring that strategy. Correspondingly with our current extra focus on data analysis,
we aim to cover the entire process from sample to end result in the future.”
This article was pusblished in the BioVox White Paper on In Vitro Diagnostics, 2016. You can download the full copy here for free.