IRVINE, Calif. & AMSTERDAM--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Agendia co-founder Laura van ‘t Veer, Ph.D., has been awarded a 2014 European Union Prize for Women Innovators. Dr. van ‘t Veer, of the Netherlands, is the inventor of Agendia’s MammaPrint® breast cancer test. She received the award March 10 from the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, at the EU’s Innovation Convention, in Brussels, Belgium. Among other dignitaries in attendance to honor Dr. van ‘t Veer was Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The prize acknowledges the ways that Dr. van ‘t Veer and MammaPrint have fundamentally changed breast cancer care, with profound implications for treatment outcomes, patient quality-of-life, and the healthcare economy. Dr. van ‘t Veer, a world-renowned molecular biologist, received the second place award worth €50,000.
The MammaPrint genomic test invented by Dr. van ‘t Veer uncovers more treatable biology and provides invaluable clinical information about an individual woman’s breast cancer and whether she is likely to experience a recurrence of the disease. Women who are shown by MammaPrint to be at high risk of recurrence can confidently proceed with chemotherapy. Those shown to be at low risk of recurrence can safely choose to forego chemotherapy and instead be directed toward other treatments that are optimal for their particular form of the disease. To date, MammaPrint is the fastest-growing, most cost-effective breast cancer recurrence assay and the only one backed by peer-reviewed prospective outcome data.
Among the consequences of this innovation and Dr. van ‘t Veer’s work:
- Overtreatment by chemotherapy may be reduced by up to 30%, without jeopardizing patients’ survival.
- Women who can safely forego chemotherapy also avoid its side effects, which can be debilitating and sometimes lead to permanent damage such as heart failure or impaired cognition.
- MammaPrint’s ability to identify women who are at low risk of recurrence means that payers no longer have to cover the high cost of chemotherapy when it is unnecessary – thereby reducing overall healthcare costs.
Dr. van ‘t Veer is now the Breast Oncology Program Leader and Professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Her current research focuses on the molecular basis for early response to therapy, to guide the development of therapy-specific companion diagnostics.
Dr. van ‘t Veer and the two other winners were selected by an independent panel of experts from a total of 67 applications. Saskia Biskup, M.D., Ph.D. (Germany, first prize) and Ana Maiques, M.S. (Spain, third prize) were the other two winners.
Although the proportion of female researchers in Europe is increasing, the under-representation of women in scientific disciplines and careers persists. Women represent only 33% of European researchers, 20% of full professors and 15.5% of heads of institutions in higher education, according to the European Commission.
“Despite some advances in recent years, women in research remain a minority. This is a waste of talent that we cannot afford,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. “We have to foster gender equality in the research landscape, but also raise the profile of successful women innovators. This prize does exactly that.”
The EU’s Innovation Convention is considered Europe's foremost innovation event, and was attended by leading visionaries, researchers, business leaders, and policymakers from around the world.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. van ‘t Veer and congratulate her on gaining this prestigious international recognition,” said David Macdonald, Agendia’s CEO. “This award demonstrates the importance of her contribution to breast cancer care, to women now and in the future, and to more sensible healthcare economics. It is an honor for all of us at Agendia to support and carry on Dr. van ‘t Veer’s remarkable accomplishments.”
MammaPrint, the first FDA-cleared test of its kind, provides definitive High Risk or Low Risk information about breast cancer recurrence for determining the appropriateness of chemotherapy for each individual patient. Unlike other genomic tests for breast cancer, the test has no ambiguous “intermediate” results. It is also the fastest-growing risk-recurrence assay for breast cancer and the only one providing risk recurrence information that is based on prospective trials including peer-reviewed patient outcome data (the RASTER study).
MammaPrint is part of Agendia’s Symphony® test panel. The Agendia tests have substantial insurance coverage encompassing an estimated 182 million lives and including coverage by Medicare and regional and national insurers.
Agendia, based in Irvine, CA and Amsterdam, is a leading molecular diagnostic company that develops and markets FFPE-based genomic diagnostic products, which help support physicians with their complex treatment decisions. Agendia’s breast cancer Symphony suite was developed using unbiased gene selection, analyzing the complete human genome, ensuring 100% definitive results for cancer patients. Symphony includes MammaPrint, the first FDA-cleared IVDMIA breast cancer recurrence assay, as well as BluePrint, a molecular subtyping assay, and TargetPrint®, an ER/PR/HER2 expression assay. Together, these tests help physicians determine a patient’s individual risk for metastasis, which patients will benefit from chemo, hormonal, or combination therapy, and which patients do not require these treatments and can instead be treated with other, less arduous and less costly methods.
In addition to the Symphony suite of tests, Agendia has a rich pipeline of genomic products in development. The company collaborates with pharmaceutical companies, leading cancer centers and academic groups to develop companion diagnostic tests in the area of oncology and is a critical partner in the ISPY-2 and MINDACT trials. For more information, visit www.agendia.com.