InsideWis: Exact Sciences story grows globally while remaining intensely local

InsideWis: Exact Sciences story grows globally while remaining intensely local

By Tom Still, Wisconsin Tech Council

Exact Sciences logoMADISON, Wis. – For those people who live in the Madison area or often pass through, the evolution of Exact Sciences in a physical sense has been nothing short of dramatic.

From what was a small office in University Research Park in 2009, the cancer screening and diagnostic test company has grown to include gleaming buildings in that West Side business park as well as facilities facing the city’s South Beltline highway in two locations.

Much less visible from a car window, but closely watched in the cancer detection world, Exact Sciences has grown beyond Madison to include research and development labs abroad and elsewhere in the United States – including central Wisconsin.

It is part of a Wisconsin story that almost never began 13 years ago but which may soon tell of more breakthroughs that build on the success of Exact Sciences’ signature cancer detection test, Cologuard.

On the same day an Exact Sciences quarterly earnings call drew attention from market analysts, about 90 people gathered for an April 26 Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon in Madison to hear what’s next for the company.

“We aim to eradicate cancer and the suffering it causes through tests that help prevent cancer, detect it earlier and guide treatment,” said Scott Larrivee, the company’s associate director of corporate affairs.

That may strike you as a bold goal until you think about the importance of early detection in fighting cancer. Larrivee described colorectal cancer as “the most preventable yet least prevented” form, which is why the non-invasive Cologuard test was developed and is widely used today.

Numbers back the claim: Nine out of 10 people with colorectal cancer diagnosed in stages one or two live five or more years. Conversely, only one in 10 people diagnosed in stage four can expect a similar life span.

In addition to Cologuard, Exact Sciences also competes in the precision oncology market with Oncotype DX, a genetic-based treatment selection test for breast, prostate, and colon cancers. With some of its acquisitions, the company is building a multi-cancer early screening test to detect about 14 cancers, a test that would be one of earliest entrants in multi-cancer liquid biopsy cancer screening.

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