Quest Diagnostics has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Haystack Oncology, an early-stage oncology company.

Established in 2021, Haystack provides a minimal residual disease (MRD)-testing solution to support the early and precise detection of residual or recurring cancer.

The test uses circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA)-based technology for the detection of MRD.

Haystack CEO and president Dan Edelstein said: “Combining Haystack with Quest is a major step forward in translating two decades of world-class liquid biopsy research and development into clinical laboratory services that are highly reliable and broadly accessible.”

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June last year, a multi-centre study showed the ability of an earlier version of the Haystack technology to identify patients with residual disease for adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery for stage II colon cancer.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Quest will explore utilising the Haystack MRD test as the foundation for new clinical lab services.

The transaction will combine Quest’s expertise and scale in the fields of oncology, genomics and pathology with Haystack’s highly sensitive MRD detection technology.

Quest Diagnostics chairman, CEO and president Jim Davis said: “Haystack’s liquid biopsy technology combined with Quest’s strengths in screening, pathology and sequencing will now position us to lead in the fast-growing MRD category.”

Subject to customary regulatory review, the deal is anticipated to close in the second quarter of this year.