New Jersey – Quest Diagnostics Inc has joined hands with a leading French health agency to expand the breast cancer gene database. Quest is a Madison; New Jersey-based largest diagnostic testing services provider in the world. It is planning to expand the database for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations along with the French agency. The endeavor is expected to help determine the hereditary risks of ovarian and breast cancer in a patient.
Quest has kept the option of participation open to all the other medical testing companies and the public laboratories that are interested in participating in the project BRCA Share. However, Quest will be charging an annual fee to the participant agencies and laboratories in exchange of the curated database. For the first time, the biggest rival of Quest in the US, the Laboratory Corporation of America has agreed to participate in this process of medical diagnostic testing.
Surge in Competition of Genetic Risk Screening
Quest has managed to time this new project perfectly well as the competition has suddenly opened and widened with the Supreme Court invalidating the Myriad Genetics hold over the BRCA testing. Myriad Genetics had obtained gene patents in 2013 on BRCA testing, which gave the company monopoly over the screening and testing for cancer.
Moreover, recently the filmmaker and actor, Angelina Jolie, a BRCA1 mutation carrier openly declared about her decision to have a mastectomy and remove her Fallopian tubes and ovaries to reduce cancer risk. That is another reason the field is now getting more media attention and importance.
Until now, the diagnostic laboratories were not keen to share the genetic information gathered through DNA testing. It made analyzing gene mutations for the smaller databases difficult and created uncertainty for the patient regarding the risk of cancer and the preventative care they need to take.
According to Charles Strom, vice president for genetics and genomics, Quest, even though there are databases that share genetic information, the variation in formatting, duplicating and terminology can create a problem.