Finland's Negen Genetic Testing Firm Introduces Pharmacogenomics Panel for COVID-19 Therapies

The Finnish firm genetic testing agency Negen has launched a pharmacogenomics panel designed to
help guide decisions in the treatment of patients with SARS-CoV-2. The Helsinki-based firm is making its panel readily available free for people who have already been studied by genomics services
consumer or biobanks.

CEO Kirsi Auro said the company decided to release its panel for people who have their own
data because the nature of the coronavirus pandemic has led to a slowdown in the production of genotype data, and because the data that provides the company could be immediately actionable.

"We are living quite times peculiar to the COVID-19 situation worldwide, and how the information about medicines used to treat infection, we will we found that some of these drugs have pharmacogenomics
quite important and this information could be extremely relevant to patients, but also, of course, for hospitals, "he said Auro.

"We choose to accept data that already are available because producing new genotype data takes a
time, "he said." With this data we can do the analysis quickly and the person can get the results within the day. "

Some of the medications that are are currently considering to treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus include
chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, a combination of lopinavir / ritonavir and Anakinra. As Negen points out on his website, pharmacogenomic effects have been described for all of these therapies, particularly antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, as those who are G6PD deficient
are predisposed to hemolytic anemia.

In addition to targeting variants of G6PD, the panel also targets SLCO1B1 variants, which may indicate
a decreased tolerance to Lopinavir, a therapy used to treat patients with HIV, as well as a high risk of adverse effects, in addition to variants of interleukin 1 (IL1), which are associated with effects adverse events in those receiving Anakinra, a medicine used to treat  rheumatoid arthritis.

It is unclear if any other company is offering a similar pharmacogenomics panel tailored to the treatments
COVID-19 in Europe at the moment, although individual tests are available for different variants of a large number of players. Auro said the reason competitors might not have assembled panels similar is because it is early in the pandemic and the production of new Testing takes time and resources. "As a small company we are quite agile and we have the ability to direct our efforts towards something new
pretty quickly, "Auro said." This is what we've done.

CTO Kimmo Aro said there are panels smallest on the market for these specific variants: Invitae and 23andMe offer testing for G6PD deficiency, for example, but Negen decided that given the health crisis it made sense to group them into a single panel.

"We think that the largest number of possible people should have this information, "Aro said." We decided
make it free for people who have their own data as it the cost to us of producing them is not great when we do not need the genotype of these samples ".

Negen was founded in 2016 to design Genomic risk panels for the Finnish population. "We noticed that
Potential hazard panels produced in the United States are not necessarily they were precisely matched to Finland or other populations, "Auro said. The focus of the private company has been to start in Finland and then expand to other populations, adopting this population-tailored approach.

"We wanted to be the most scientific possible to produce polygenic risk scores and combine them with
unique clinical variants for different diseases and also provide some environmental risk factors, "said Auro. The first product of the company was a coronary heart disease panel called Negen - Heart.
It has also developed and launched a second panel for diabetes called Negen - Diabetes. A third offering, Negen - 360, combines both panels into one product.

The company relies on the arrangements of custom Illumina genotypes to generate data about your patients. Their two independent panels cost € 239 ($ 258) each, while Negen - 360 sells for € 349. A panel for cancer of breast. Customers who currently do not have your details can also choose to the genotype for the new pharmacogenomics service from a sample saliva for € 179. However, given the current situation, Auro cautioned that lab processing has been delayed.

In terms of sending data, the company currently accepts data files from 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Family Tree DNA on your site. While not all the chips used by these services contain the bookmarks included in the Negen panel, have more or less the same coverage backbone as the Illumina matrix itself
Negen custom. Therefore, Negen can impute the necessary data to enrich it and then calculate your models. "This is something we can to do outside the COVID panel and this is part of our portfolio, "he said

The genomics of consumer has not been unpopular in Finland, although it is dwarfed by the
absorption in the United States. Auro said that around 20,000 Finns have that information available from a total population of about 6 millions. People who have already studied their genotype or complete genome or sequencing of an entire exome by a biobank can also load their data and receive results. Finland currently has an initiative to genotypes through FinnGen, which aims to study the genotype of 500,000 Finns by 2023.

The company itself trusts the data of the biobank to design its panels, so data acquisition is not
an objective of the new offer, although if you intend to use the customer data, you first get their permission and all data analyzed they are protected by Europeans. Regulation of Protection of Genetic Data, as well as national regulations.

"It has been of interest in Finland, "Auro said of the new panel." The first day he was available, we received several hundred requests [for analysis] ", He said. While the company launched the Finnish trial earlier this
month, is now in the process of expansion to reach international users by making it available in English.

"We know that in Finland, the percentage that owns its own whole genome data is limited ",
Auro said. "We wanted to expand and see how this test could be delivered to global markets. "When asked if the service could help the company reach more customers with its other panels, Auro was
agree. "We believe this will help us reach more customers for our other tests, "he said.