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Myriad Genetics launches improved test for breast, other cancers

Published September 5, 2013 3:25 pm

Health • Analysis of 25 genes is more extensive than older tests but costs same.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Myriad Genetics Inc., has launched Thursday an all-in-one cancer test that is more extensive but costs the same as older tests.

The myRisk Hereditary Cancer test analyzes 25 genes associated with eight major cancers, including breast, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, colorectal (for colon and rectal cancers), endometrial, melanoma and ovarian. Before, Myriad had five cancer tests that analyzed a total of 11 genes.

"The tests have gone through extensive validation to assure there is a 100 percent accuracy of the test result," said Mark Capone, president of Myriad Genetics, which is headquartered at the University of Utah's Research Park in Salt Lake City. "If you get a positive test result and there is a mutation. . .there is a very high risk you could end up with one of these eight cancers."

Capone said that if a patient tests positive for a mutant form of one of the 25 genes, it could mean the person has a 20 to 87 percent increased chance of getting the cancer associated with that gene.

"Any one of these genes would significantly increase your risk for at least one of the eight cancers," he said. "So you would definitely want to immediately take some additional medical management as a result of that."

The myRisk Hereditary Cancer test will replace Myriad's five older cancer panels or tests. One of those older tests was the BracAnalysis, a Myriad panel that analyzed a patient for a mutant form of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, the same test that actress Angelina Jolie took to find out if she was at high risk for breast cancer. When the results were positive for the mutant gene, Jolie underwent a double mastectomy as a preventative measure.

The listed price for the myRisk Hereditary Cancer test is about $4,000, the same cost of one of the older tests. "The price for the 25-gene panel is the same as the price for the two-gene BracAnalysis product, so we have kept the price the same but significantly increased the amount of information," Capone said.

He added, however, that most out-of-pocket expenses for the test through insurance would be less than $100. More than 97 percent of insurance companies cover the test, he said.

Myriad has launched the test in a limited "early-access" program that includes 250 health care providers and will be more widely available by summer 2015.

"We're excited about the panel testing in general. Whenever we saw patients with suspicious family history, we had to test one or two genes at a time and sometimes insurance wouldn't want to cover all of those tests," said Amanda Gammon, a genetic counselor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is meeting with Myriad later this month to possibly be one of the early health care providers that uses the test. "Hopefully with a shortened turnaround time and reduced costs, it can give families some answers."

Capone said Myriad holds patents on some of the genes the new test analyzes while the rest are in the public domain. The company recently filed two lawsuits in U.S. District Court alleging two competitors for its breast and ovarian cancer tests violate Myriad's patents.

vince@sltrib.com

Twitter: @ohmytech