SV Bio Relaunched as Lifecode, Maker of LDTs

January 20, 2015

By Bio-IT World Staff

January 20, 2015 | SV Bio today announced a new name, a new focus, and a new product: a next generation sequencing (NGS)-based oncology assay, the Pan Cancer Somatic Panel (PCSP).

Silicon Valley Biosystems was formally launched as an in silico diagnostics company in January 2013, founded by Navigenics veteran Dietrich Stephan and backed by Sequoia Capital after months of pre-launch work on genetic interpretation including a Batten Disease diagnostic odyssey.

But by early 2014, the company’s website appeared abandoned, the corporate blog featuring a months-old post.

Today, the company rebrands and reemerges as Lifecode, Inc. ( Original SV Bio COO, Chris Rivest, is at the helm as CEO.

The vision for Lifecode has been clarified and refocused, Rivest told Bio-IT World this morning. According to his LinkedIn profile, Rivest officially took over as CEO in September 2013. On Lifecode’s website, Stephan is now listed as Chief Scientific Officer, and most of the leadership team remains the same.

Lifecode’s goal is to leverage the algorithms of SV Bio to bring assays to market for diagnostic tests, Rivest said. It’s a shift in market. Rather than the SV Bio model offering a turnkey software tool that, “allow[ed] a patient’s genome to be analyzed at the point of care, from gene panel to exome to whole genome,” Lifecode’s Laboratory Developed Tests (LDT’s) will be ordered by physicians. (For a closer look at the LDT market, see “FDA Moves on Lab-Developed Tests”)

Rivest would not disclose the location of Lifecode’s CLIA-certified laboratory, but the company headquarters is listed as Foster City, California.

The diagnostics market, Rivest said, is much, much larger than the software-for-diagnostics market.

Lifecode’s LTDs are developed exclusively on a next-generation sequencing platform, using machine learning techniques, proprietary algorithms, and custom annotation and curation tools to accurately detect and interpret genomic alterations in patient tumor samples. Very soon sequencing will be commoditized, Rivest said. Illumina or Roche will sell a box, and the analysis will be a software problem, he contends.

The first Lifecode panel, PCSP, is currently being offered through a pilot program to a group of hand-selected physicians. Rivest said he expects the panel to be widely available toward the end of the first quarter of 2015 or beginning of the second. From there, he expects new tests to be routinely announced.

Cancer is that largest, actionable, most reimbursable market, he said, and a thus a reasonable entry point, but Lifecode’s offerings will expand into hereditary conditions and other areas. Rivest emphasizes that the company’s core competency is interpretation.

“The company’s intense focus on the rapid analysis, interpretation, and clinical reporting of complex sequencing information is unique to the clinical laboratory industry,” said the company in the formal announcement. “The leadership team at Lifecode brings together extensive expertise in mathematics, data science, cancer biology and software development, helping to create novel engineering solutions for ‘big data’ challenges in clinical genomics.”

Lifecode lists financial support from Sequoia Capital, the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Ventures