Epigenomics AG Vs. Exact Sciences: Who Wins The CRC Early Detection Fight?

Jan. 16, 2013 8:40 AM ETEpigenomics AG (EPGNF), EXAS59 Comments
Gilbert Gerber profile picture
Gilbert Gerber

"For me the biggest payoff in cancer research would be the discovery of biomarkers that can be measured in the blood that reflect the presence of early-stage cancer."

Dr Leland H. Hartwell, March 2008

President, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2001

Epigenomics AG (OTCQX:EPGNF) recently filed with the FDA the 4th and last module of its blood based colorectal cancer (CRC) screening test, EpiProcolon (EPC). Following the recent successful read-out of the head-to-head study vs. FIT (fecal immunological test), the stage is set for the first PMA certified blood based cancer screening test mid 2013, and for Dr Hatwell's vision to come true. (Below I shall refer to Epigenomics as ECX, its German local exchange code)

Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS) completed recruitment of the Deep-C pivotal trial for its CRC stool DNA screening test Cologuard in November. The read-out is expected in March/April and PMA approval early 2014. EXAS is well known to the readers of Seeking Alpha, and enjoys broad analyst coverage, so I shall limit my comments to the points relevant to the comparison between the two.

Why screen for cancer?

This sounds like an awkward question to ask, but epidemiologists insist that the only outcome of cancer screening should be reduction in mortality rate. If early diagnosis only makes you live longer with cancer, but doesn't improve your survival horizon, what's the point ?

I'd like to refer to an expert for a more detailed and qualified explanation of the underlying concepts: screening, diagnosis, early detection and prevention. It is a lecture by epidemiologist Dr Judith Walsh, from UCSF, given in August 2012. The title says it all "Controversies in cancer screening." The first 28 minutes are dealing with CRC. To me, the most shocking part is not what Dr Walsh reveals, but

This article was written by

Gilbert Gerber profile picture
European portfolio manager, biotech, health care.

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