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Onconix Inc.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Onconix is developing a blood test designed to accurately detect and stage cervical cancer, monitor its treatment, and provide an early warning of recurrence or metastases. The Cervical Specific Antigen test uses insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) as a biomarker of cervical cancer.

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Women's health is an area long shunned by pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies. But that is starting to change thanks to the successes of companies such as Cytyc and Digene, who have built successful testing franchises in the Ob/ Gyn market. As companies such as PerkinElmer and others look to develop new tests in this market, a spate of start-ups are developing technologies that might fit the bill. Of greatest interest are the so-called molecular tests since they offer the advantage of premium pricing.

Women's Health: A Growing Market for Diagnostic Players

Women's health is an area long shunned by pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies. But that is starting to change thanks to the successes of companies such as Cytyc and Digene, who have built successful testing franchises in the Ob/ Gyn market. As companies such as PerkinElmer and others look to develop new tests in this market, a spate of start-ups are developing technologies that might fit the bill. Of greatest interest are the so-called molecular tests since they offer the advantage of premium pricing.

Digene's Long Road Towards a Blockbuster

After spending a decade developing its technology and product development capabilities, centered on testing for human papillomavirus, the cause of cervical cancer, Digene Corp. is growing its top line and finally gaining visibility. Now, the question is whether it can validate its test clinically and secure its market position, which means dislodging an entrenched cytology infrastructure. If successful, the company could become a superstar. On the other hand, its proprietary position could be undermined by other cervical cancer markers that appear downstream of initial HPV infection and have a higher correlation with disease. And Digene's focus on the HPV product opportunity has limited its efforts in developing its core technology at a time when other companies are dedicating significant resources to similar efforts.

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