Biotech startup Gypsy Bay Genomics has signed a patent license agreement with the U.S. Army, allowing the company to commercialize a new molecular Pap and HPV testing technology into an at-home kit.
The technology was developed at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. It combines human epigenetic biomarkers and human papillomavirus sequencing to provide an improved diagnostic for cervical cancer.
Globally, an estimated 570,000 women were affected by cervical cancer in 2018, resulting in over 300,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The vast majority of deaths occur in poorer countries.
Routine screening and early detection is the best defense. But traditional Pap smear techniques require significant infrastructure and expertise to visually identify diseased tissue samples.
“This new diagnostic enables early-stage detection by lab technicians using common molecular biology tools, and also provides the ability to empirically differentiate between grades of cervical cancer, helping to inform a clinician’s choice of treatment,” said Dr. Jenna Baker, CEO of Gypsy Bay Genomics. “Our first step is to deliver a research-use only kit to equip clinical investigators with these improved molecular tools, but we ultimately intend to provide an easy-to-use, at-home diagnostic.”
The license agreement was finalized in August by the Army’s medical technology transfer office at Fort Detrick and contains undisclosed fees and royalties on sales.
Quinton King, senior technology manager at TechLink, guided the company through the federal government’s patent licensing process.
“By facilitating direct communications between the parties, and helping them find mutually acceptable terms, we were able to move quickly to signatures,” King said. “This is a win for both and a step towards a healthier world.”