MaRS EXCITE and Assurex Health collaborate to bring precision medicine to Canadians suffering from depression and schizophrenia
TORONTO, June 12, 2015 – MaRS EXCITE announced today that Assurex Canada, a precision medicine company that helps patients with mental health disorders, has joined its evaluation platform.
Assurex Canada helps healthcare providers tailor the right treatment to patients using a genetic test called GeneSight, which is displacing the current trial and error approach to prescribing medication for behavioral health conditions.
GeneSight technology is based on combinatorial pharmacogenomics (CPGxTM), a proprietary informatics platform that integrates and weights the importance of multiple genes that affect an individual’s ability to tolerate and respond to 33 Health Canada approved medications commonly prescribed to treat depression and schizophrenia, as well as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and other behavioral health conditions.
Within 36 hours of receiving a DNA sample collected with a simple cheek swab, Assurex Canada’s laboratory will send a report to the patient’s healthcare provider that groups medications into the categories of “use as directed,” “use with caution” and “use with increased caution and with more frequent monitoring” based upon a patient’s genetic profile and the genetic pathways through which medications work in the body.
GeneSight Helps Healthcare Providers, Patients
GeneSight was developed in the Assurex Health clinical laboratory and is based on patented technology licensed from Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. It also incorporates genetic markers discovered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). GeneSight helps healthcare providers more quickly find an effective treatment for their patients and may save patients from experiencing side effects that often come from taking antidepressants and antipsychotics.
“The potential benefit of GeneSight is significant when you consider that approximately eight percent of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives and one percent of the Canadian population is affected by schizophrenia,” said Virginia “Gina” C. Drosos, President and CEO, Assurex Health. “More than 160,000 people in the U.S. have had the GeneSight test. We are eager to work with MaRS EXCITE to show the economic value of GeneSight to the government and healthcare providers and quickly bring this technology to Canadian patients.”
“Knowing a patient’s potential reaction to a treatment whether serious weight gain, insomnia or other side-effects can lead to better adherence, reduced relapse and fewer readmissions to the hospital,” said Catherine Zahn, President and CEO, CAMH.
“GeneSight represents the first genetic testing technology to be evaluated through the EXCITE program. To convince healthcare providers to integrate genetic testing tools such as GeneSight into their routine decision-making – and to convince payers to reimburse this innovation – will take more than just data on safety and effectiveness. It requires a compelling case be made to primary care health professionals on the value of incorporating this genetic test into way they work today,” said Dr. Zayna Khayat, Director of the MaRS EXCITE program.
Results from the EXCITE evaluation of GeneSight technology are expected to be ready for a coverage decision in Ontario by 2018.
EXCITE’s partnering research centre, the Programs for Assessment of Technology in Health (PATH) Research Institute based at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton will design and oversee the EXCITE evaluation which will include:
- Two separate multicentre randomized control trials that will evaluate the effect of using GeneSight on patients with major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. These trials will include over 1,000 Ontario patients.
- A review of the literature associated with the use of pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine for treatment guidance in mental health and other therapeutic areas (e.g. oncology, cardiology, immunology).
- Economic models that show the potential cost savings associated with using GeneSight for patients and Canadian health care providers compared to the cost of current treatment practices and comparative technologies. These models will include costs associated with medication use, physician visits, hospital admissions, productivity losses and short-term disability costs.
- A knowledge translation strategy to communicate the findings of the three above studies to mental health and family medicine practitioners as well as decision makers.
“Evaluating and disseminating both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pharmacogenomics testing using GeneSight will inform patients, healthcare providers and decision makers in Ontario about the therapeutic value of this technology, which in turn will improve patient outcomes and care in mental health,” said Dr. Jean-Eric Tarride, study chair of the GeneSight study, Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University, and researcher with the Research Institute of St. Joseph’s Hamilton.
MaRS’ Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE) is an evaluation platform that accelerates the adoption of breakthrough medical technologies by prioritizing only the best, most cost-effective technologies and helping them obtain the evidence they need for federal licensing and provincial health system adoption.
EXCITE helps these technologies navigate the system and get to market—and to patients—faster by providing:
- An early indication of fit with the healthcare system;
- Evidence in time to make technology improvements; and
- Harmonized studies that support licensing and adoption decisions.
About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS cultivates high-impact ventures and equips innovators to drive economic and social prosperity. MaRS provides expert advice and market research, and makes connections to talent, customers and capital. MaRS startup clients have created 6,500 jobs and, in the last three years alone, they have raised $1 billion in capital and earned $500 million in revenue.
About Assurex Health
Assurex Health is a commercial-stage, informatics based precision medicine company providing treatment decision support to clinicians for behavioral health conditions. Assurex Health’s proprietary GeneSight technology is based on combinatorial pharmacogenomics (CPGx™) – the application of multiple genetic factors that influence an individual’s response to medications – as well as evidence-based medicine and clinical pharmacology. Assurex Health has licensed patented technology from Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, both of whom continue to be research collaborators. Assurex Canada is a subsidiary of Assurex Health. Learn more at www.assurexhealth.com.