San Diego Business Journal San Diego’s Petco and PetDx, a local biotechnology startup are working together on a collaboration to offer multi-cancer detection tests for dogs across the country.

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Daniel Grosu, President and CEO, PetDx

Executives from both organizations said the partnership is the first of its kind to provide multi-cancer diagnostic tests to pet owners through full-service veterinary hospitals.
Founded in 2019, the PetDx mission is to develops life-saving products for pets. Its flagship product, is a liquid biopsy test for early cancer detection in dogs.

Partnering with Petco
PetDx, which has been operating quietly over the last two years, said Petco is currently offering its diagnostic test to consumers at 30 out 100 of its full-service veterinary hospitals.
Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs, an estimated 6 million dogs get diagnosed with cancer each year in the US alone. With PetDx’s support, Petco seeks to tackle one of the biggest unmet need in veterinary medicine.
“This is arguably the single biggest unmet need in veterinary medicine, corresponding to a massive greenfield business opportunity,” said Daniel Grosu, president and CEO of PetDx. “PetDx is the first to bring this groundbreaking technology to companion animals, where it is expected to have a tremendous impact.”

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Andi Flory, Chief Medical Officer, PetDx

“We know from human medicine that early detection saves lives, and billions of dollars have been invested to develop revolutionary “liquid biopsy” cancer detection solutions for people by companies such as GRAIL, Foundation Medicine, Guardant Health, Thrive Earlier Detection, Freenome, and many others,” he said.

The Solution
The test, called OncoK9, works by taking a simple blood draw. After that, the sample is sent to PetDx’s lab, which scans for DNA fragments released by cancer cells.
Results are returned in nine to 15 days, with detection rates comparable to the most advanced solutions currently available for people. It retails for around $400, depending on the region.
Dog owners can ask for the OncoK9 test at Petco clinics, where available. Petco’s veterinarians will also begin to suggest screenings during routine dog checkups for certain breeds or for those who are advanced in age.
“Petco is a leading animal health and wellness company, and enabling early detection of cancer in pets is a key priority for them,” said Grosu.
A pilot project, the two companies plan to expand into more vet clinics over the course of the year once proven successful. PetDx’s long-term goal is to expand their product line into additional use cases.
“In the future, we envision offering the test for additional use cases, including minimal residual disease detection, recurrence and treatment response monitoring, and targeted treatment selection, greatly expanding the veterinarian’s toolbox for the management of cancer in dogs,” said Andi Flory, chief medical officer of PetDx.

Hiring in San Diego
Prior to PetDx, Grosu worked at gene-sequencing giant Illumina, as its first chief medical officer. A former medical doctor, he got the idea for PetDx after his 4-year-old dog had advanced pancreatic cancer and decided to apply oncology research to pets.
The La Jolla-based startup employs roughly 35 staffers with an office at UC San Diego’s Center for Novel Therapeutics. It has raised $17 million in funding, including an early investment from Petco.
Grosu believes the company is well-positioned to continue growing its local headcount as well as attracting top-talent in the genomics sector.
“San Diego is the capital of Genomics. There is no other place in the world with such a genomics ecosystem, talent-pool, and business-enabling environment for this kind of venture,” said Grosu. “This unique community enabled PetDx to develop and launch a world-class life-saving product just two years after its founding, and for a fraction of the investment that would be required elsewhere.”