Difficult Questions, Answered.
Cofactor Genomic’s CEO, Jarret Glasscock, discusses the major challenges facing molecular diagnostic developers today and creative new strategies making waves in the industry.
Uncover the potential of data strategy and why it’s time to address the needs of multiple stakeholders to fulfill the promise of precision medicine. Learn how Cofactor is using RNA to find better diagnostic solutions.
Q: What do you think are the major challenges for molecular diagnostic developers?
A: I’d say top on that list for challenges is data. With technologies like next generation sequencing, we’re coming up now on 10 years or so of being inundated with data. There’s always this lag between generating the data and making very pragmatic use of that data. I believe we’re just entering into that phase now where some of the leaders in our industry are thinking creatively how to leverage the power of that data and moving out of the mundane which is just the generation of the data.
Q: How can pharma and technology developers work together better?
A: About a month ago I heard something really insightful from one of the panelists at Personalized Medicine Coalition’s yearly meeting and it was talking about how pharma was rethinking their strategy as they were moving into 2019. What they referenced was how they traditionally thought about their strategic initiatives falling into two buckets, one bucket being therapy, the second bucket is diagnostics. What they had the insight to share in this meeting is there’s now a third bucket which is data strategy and what is data and how is data playing in their business. I think elevating data to that same level as therapy and diagnostics is really reassuring. I believe that’s the area where companies such as Cofactor as well as other pharma companies can work together.
Q: What does an ideal molecular diagnostic look like?
A: The promise of precision medicine is the right drug to the right patient at the right time, so an ideal molecular diagnostic would allow for that to happen. I would say in addition to that, there are multiple stakeholders in the context of precision medicine. You have payers, clinicians or providers, and you have the patient obviously. With these multiple stakeholders you have to provide a solution or a diagnostic which is addressing the needs of all three of those, most importantly the patient.
Q: Do you think that there will be one molecular diagnostic to rule them all? Or do we need many different ones to accomplish the goal of precision medicine?
A: I would be highly suspect of anybody claiming to have a general be all end all of diagnostics, primarily because it’s really at odds with the central aspect of precision medicine which is to have very focused or precise tools that are that are aimed at looking at a specific indication in context of a specific treatment in the context of a subpopulation. I believe what we’ll see is more specialized diagnostics and as we have this growth of different therapies and even classes of therapies will need to have diagnostics that are equally specific.
Q: How does Cofactor fit into the already crowded diagnostic market?
A: What makes Cofactor unique is the mission that we’ve embarked upon which is specifically to go after RNA in precision medicine. When we look at this years ago we realized that this this aspect of RNA enabling precision medicine was a largely unwritten chapter and something that we were in a unique position and had a unique opportunity to go after. What does that mean to go after? It means to take a critical look at the molecular tools that were being developed, the software tools that were being developed, and even the regulatory pathway. We’ve targeted these areas specifically to enable RNA’s use in precision medicine. I would say that is what’s really unique about Cofactor. While everyone else was focused on DNA and making a path for DNA in the diagnostics space, we made a very conscious decision to specifically go after RNA. That’s the reason why our mission statement is to enable the science of RNA and to make RNA more useful in the context of diagnostics.
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