Health Care and Technology

Health screening company partners on test

August 16, 2016
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NxGEN MDx premature baby
Courtesy NX Prenatal

A local health screening company has entered into a partnership with an out-of-state business to collaborate on a new test for pregnant women.

NxGEN MDx in Grand Rapids, which provides genetic carrier screening, and NX Prenatal in Louisville, Kentucky, which develops diagnostic assays for adverse pregnancy outcomes and conditions, said last month that they will develop and deploy a blood test to assess pregnancy biomarkers of pre-term birth risk.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The partnership brings together NX Prenatal's experience in developing "exosome-associated biomarkers" from maternal blood with NxGEN MDx's genetic screening for women's health applications.

Alan Mack, CEO of NxGEN MDx, said the companies hope to have the new test to market within 90 days.

Pre-term births

Pre-term birth affects up to one in eight U.S. pregnancies, leading to nearly half a million pre-term births each year, costing families and insurers an estimated $26 billion, according to NX Prenatal.

Globally, there are about 15 million pre-term births annually, accounting for 75 percent of perinatal deaths.

Pre-term births are also a major cause of short- and long-term medical complications in infants and children.

Screening women

Mack said the companies’ combined efforts are “designed to identify which pregnant women are at risk for delivering prematurely” as early as possible.

Brian Brohman, co-CEO of NX Prenatal, said NX’s proprietary NeXosome Platform has the potential to identify women at risk for pre-term birth as early as 10 weeks gestation, which he said dramatically improves on the 20-plus week usefulness of current tests.

NxGEN MDx's technology also examines the entire gene, rather than parts of the gene, “giving families a comprehensive assessment of their true risk.”

The companies believe identifying risk for pre-term births earlier will have a powerful ripple effect.

Gail Page, executive chair of NX Prenatal, said in addition to helping clinicians proactively manage those at greatest risk, patients and families will benefit from personalized care and potential tailored interventions, while payers and self-insured employers may ultimately experience lower claims costs related to pre-term birth.

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