Exact Sciences has shelled out $410m to buy University of Oxford early cancer test company Base Genomics, incorporated in July 2019.

Cancer diagnostics company Exact Sciences has paid a $410m total consideration to acquire Base Genomics, the UK-based DNA methylation measurement spinout of University of Oxford.

Founded in 2019, Base Genomics has created a DNA methylation assay called Taps that is able to detect early-stage cancer using only a simple blood test.

DNA methylation occurs when sections have been altered by environmental factors – such as smoking – as opposed to the patient’s inherited genes.

Base claims Taps is sensitive enough to pick out pieces of methylated DNA encoding that circulate within the patient’s bloodstream – a key indicator of early-stage cancer.

The technology is billed as diagnosing multiple cancer subtypes at high-sensitivity and avoids use of harsh chemicals historically employed to measure DNA methylation.

Base Genomics was incubated by Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university’s venture fund, under the helm of Ollie Waterhouse, one of its entrepreneurs-in-residence.

The company’s core research was spearheaded by Chunxiao Song, a principal investigator at University of Oxford’s Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and Yibin Liu, a postdoctoral research scientist at the same division.

Exact Sciences plans to retain the nucleus of Base’s team in Oxford but will also expand its headcount with a view of accelerating its clinical and commercial strategy.

OSI co-led a $11m seed round for Base Genomics in June 2020 alongside various unnamed investors. The division said it had financed the spinout since its inception, without providing further details.

Exact Sciences concurrently announced the acquisition of Thrive Earlier Detection, a spinout of Johns Hopkins University working on a blood test for multiple cancers, for up to $2.15bn.