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Agendia N.V.: A New Hope for Breast Cancer Patients


On average, 1 in 8 women in the United States develops invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, which speaks volumes about the need for the development of diagnostic technology.

It is the duty of modern medicine to help breast cancer patients and their families that watch them go through this debilitating disease. An early diagnosis and personalized treatment in alignment with the highest medical care standards are the main factors in improving patients’ quality of life.

Bernard Sixt, Laura Johanna van 't Veer, and Rene Bernards embarked on a noble mission to make the breast cancer patient's journey easier through effective molecular diagnostics.

Their project, Agendia, focuses on the power of genomic testing as a way of assisting doctors in achieving favorable outcomes. By exploring the biology of breast cancer, Agendia’s team generates accurate clinical data that plays an essential role in taking the most relevant approach for the treatment of each patient.

Read on to discover the idea behind Agendia’s noble mission.

The Education Journey of Life-Changers

At the heart of the altruistic success story that is Agendia, there are three professionals with a convenient education portfolio in medicine - Bernard Sixt, Laura Johanna van ’t Veer, and Rene Bernards.

Ever since their young years, they all showed an exceptional interest in medicine and their academic education was a promise for great things to come.

Bernard obtained a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the Technical University of Munich and a Master of Science degree in Chemistry from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Laura acquired a Master of Science in Molecular Biology of Cancer from the University of Amsterdam and afterward became Doctor of Philosophy, Oncology, and Cancer Biology at Leiden University, where Rene also got his Ph.D.

These experienced intellectuals founded Agendia in 2003 in Amsterdam, whereas the CEO position currently belongs to Mark R. Straley, a professional holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Miami University.

Healthcare Entrepreneurship in the Making

The three founders of Agendia had extensive experience in molecular oncology research with more than 100 published papers, while Mark R. Straley entered the company much later with a rich portfolio as well.

Mark began his professional journey in the healthcare industry with positions of increasing responsibility in Bayer Healthcare and Abbot Laboratories. His first major position was as a Worldwide Vice President in Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a J&J company, where he stayed until 2010.

After that, Mark served as President and CEO of Metamark Genetics of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a biotech company dedicated to the development of predictive and prognostic diagnostic tests for cancer patients.

Finally, Mark started his engagement with Agendia Inc. as the company’s CEO in 2015, where he brought more than two decades of international experience in the development and commercialization of laboratory services and clinical diagnostics.

The Birth of a Noble Mission

Agendia was founded in 2003 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with the objective to provide personalized treatment plans to breast cancer patients. In order to fight one of the most threatening modern diseases, the company relies on inspecting patients’ genomes as a way to decide whether a patient would benefit from chemo or alternative methods.

Before physicians started focusing on genomic profiling, they used to decide about treatment details according to clinicopathologic parameters - including the age of the patient, hormone receptor status, tumor grade, and lymph node involvement. These are all important factors to pay attention to, but they allow a more superficial insight into the individual nature of the patient’s disease.

With the rise of genomic diagnostics, doctors can inspect the activity of particular genes inside the tumor, which has a significant impact on the behavior of the tumor. By combining this data with the aforementioned clinical factors, physicians can gain a comprehensive insight into the unique nature of the patient’s tumor and guide them in the next steps of the treatment.

This way, interdisciplinary medical teams have quick access to concise answers that allow them to give patients the best advice on possible treatment alternatives. By choosing the most convenient and effective treatment option, the patient’s chances for a positive outcome and a normal quality of life are drastically increased.

Agendia’s team prides itself on the accuracy and efficiency of the diagnostic tests. Patients usually get the results before the initial surgery consultation, so that they give way for a more comprehensive and trustworthy treatment approach.

Raising Capital and Building Partnerships

Established in the Netherlands and based in Irvine, California, the company has raised an estimated revenue worth of $61M since its founding in 2003.

As a leading name in precision oncology, Agendia Inc. obtained a $35M funding round in 2018 led by Athyrium Capital Management LP, a prominent worldwide investor in innovative, fast-growing brands in healthcare entrepreneurship.

This capital was used to catalyze commercial expansion in the United States and the global market, starting with the increased adoption of Agendia’s freshly-launched sequencing-based MammaPrint®, BluePrint® Breast Cancer Recurrence, and Molecular Subtyping Kit.

In October 2021, Agendia filed to acquire up to $75M in an initial public offering for further development of their genomic tests. At this point, the company had established MammaPrint and BluePrint as effective diagnostic tools that give vital insight into the patient’s tumor to physicians - from gene expression to the very nature of the tumor tissue.

The tests were designed and upgraded to help oncologists decide on further chemotherapy and endocrine therapy treatment, as well as predict the possibility for eventual recurrence in several molecular subtypes (HER2, Basal, Luminal).

The latest news about an important partnership for the Agendia team came in January 2022. Illumina, Inc. announced a long-standing collaboration with the company that will focus on the co-development of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests for cancer patients.

This way, Agendia joined Illumina’s growing portfolio containing over 30 IVD partners responsible for designing more than 40 sequencing-based options for cancer diagnostics and therapy selection. The aim of this partnership is to elevate next-generation sequencing to a new level and therefore support decentralized oncology testing.

Fighting Breast Cancer with Newest Inventions

Almost two decades from its beginnings, Agendia is a leading brand in precision breast cancer oncology headquartered in Irvine, California, and employs around 200 experts.

Having to be part of the serious medical industry means having to be on the edge of innovation and technology, and that’s exactly;y what Agendia did. Successfully shedding competition coming from rivals like Biotheranostics, MDxHealth, and HTG Molecular Diagnostics, among others.

At the end of 2021, the company revealed that it would be a part of the 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium with the objective of confirming BluePrint’s efficiency in giving directions for neoadjuvant treatment.

The primary presentation provided an assessment of the BluePrint 80-gene molecular subtyping test, focused on its ability to predict the patient's response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. With a huge nationwide group of patients from the TRAIN2 study in the Netherlands Cancer Registry involved, the results confirmed BluePrint’s quality - Agendia’s tests were found to reclassify 15% of patients with different tumor subtypes.

Agendia Is Here to Stay

The commercial-stage healthcare company started this year by announcing a new stage of its mission - the Agendia team plans to offer early access to its Digital MammaPrint solutions for breast cancer patients in Brazil. This way, the company aims to spread its influence and bring hope to a larger part of the breast cancer community.

With this project, Brazil will become the first country to receive samples analyzed by the Digital MammaPrint system. This means that both Brazilian physicians and their patients will get higher chances of successful treatments thanks to the technology relying on genomic insight into a malignant breast tumor.

As artificial intelligence is increasingly shaping the healthcare field, Agendia also plans to introduce a new AI platform that will inform physicians about the nature of patients’ individual tumors in an even more efficient way.

One may consider Agendia a pioneer in diagnosing breast cancer patients, and thanks to the innovative approaches offered by the company, there are chances fewer women will be put through the adversity of battling breast cancer.