Exact Sciences announced Tuesday it had acquired Thrive Earlier Detection, a liquid biopsy company that launched last year with technology from Johns Hopkins University, for $2.15 billion.
The acquisition is yet another boon for the liquid biopsy industry, which has matured in the last five years from “the long-sought holy grail of oncology” to a concept with concrete data behind it. This is the second acquisition this year of a liquid biopsy company developing tests for healthy people; the major DNA sequencing machine maker Illumina bought Grail for $8 billion in cash and stock in September.
Exact’s CEO, Kevin Conroy, said he hoped that Grail and Thrive’s efforts could encourage screening guidelines groups to consider recommending regular liquid biopsy tests — a key step that would spur insurers to cover them. “We think that guideline groups are much more likely to create a new category of screening if they see that it is a category of more than one,” Conroy said.