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Aurora Health Care, PointOne and Third Wave Technologies collaborate on groundbreaking application of genetics to patient care

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Patients in Eastern Wisconsin to Benefit from Nation's Largest Clinical Application of Genetics to Cardiovascular Disease

MILWAUKEE, Aurora Health Care, a Wisconsin not-for-profit health care provider; PointOne Systems, a Milwaukee-based clinical genetic information systems company; and Third Wave Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: TWTI), a Madison, Wisconsin-based biotechnology company, today announced they will collaborate on a groundbreaking, large-scale application of genetic medicine to cardiovascular care.

The program will use genetic data to develop unique, individualized patient care plans designed to prevent the occurrence or advancement of cardiovascular disease. The first phase, beginning in August, will focus on preventing a form of blood clotting called venous thrombosis, which is the third most common cardiovascular disease in the United States.

Aurora expects the program to reduce costly and potentially deadly surgical complications, thereby increasing overall patient safety and improving patient outcomes.

PointOne's clinical knowledge management software will be used to identify from among Aurora's 72,000 cardiovascular patients those who are at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood-clotting in the veins of the legs. Aurora physicians will then determine which patients from this initial screening would benefit from genetic testing and individualized patient care plans.

Each patient who participates in the first phase of the program will be tested, using Third Wave's genetic analysis technology, for the presence of two genetic variations, Factor II and Factor V, that predispose patients to DVT. People with either of the factors have up to a seven-fold increased risk of DVT; those with both factors are at an 80-fold increased risk. Treatment plans may include individually tailored preventive drug therapy, lifestyle changes or both.

"There are four primary benefits to using genetic information in the care of cardiovascular patients," said Nick Turkal, M.D., Aurora's senior clinical vice president for academic and medical affairs. "First, genetic data will better enable us to assess the risk of blood clots developing after surgery. Second, it will help us to determine which patients will receive the most benefit from anti-clotting medication. Third, it will allow clinicians to choose the best dose of medication for an individual patient based on genetic background. And fourth, it will allow us to educate individuals who are at increased risk for blood clots, and their families," Turkal explained.

Aurora, PointOne and Third Wave see the effort as a first step in establishing an advanced, patient-specific cardiovascular disease risk detection and prevention program.

"The rapidly growing complexity of health care requires effective collaboration among physicians, biotechnologists and information systems experts," said Drew Palin, M.D., chief executive officer of PointOne. "Each week we double the amount of information obtained from genetic research. This pace of development requires a knowledge management system like the one developed by PointOne that integrates data, clinical logic and relevant clinical genetic content to support health care providers," explained Palin.

"This collaborative effort involves a fundamental shift in the practice of medicine from reactive patient care based on broad risk profiles like age, weight and medical history, to predictive patient care that identifies the probability or onset of disease at the earliest possible stage, based on an individual's unique genetic make-up," said Lance Fors, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Third Wave. "While our collaboration is focused on cardiovascular disease, this predictive patient care model can be applied to every major disease, including osteoporosis and diabetes. Aurora is attractive as a partner because of their broad patient base and health care network, which enables an integrated study to be conducted. We expect our collaboration to become a model for implementation of predictive patient care across a large, integrated health care system," added Fors.

The ease of use, performance and cost-effectiveness of Third Wave's genetic analysis technology makes it ideally suited for large-scale clinical use.

"The unique characteristics of Third Wave's Invader technology make the integration of genetic analysis into large-scale clinical practice a reality, giving physicians a great opportunity to further personalize care to the individual patient. This means better methods of treatment earlier," said Turkal.

"Aurora physicians will use the results from Third Wave products, coupled with data from PointOne's systems, as an important resource when they make clinical judgments about how to treat individual patients," Turkal said. "This new system will provide physicians with more and better data on each individual patient than ever before. "

PointOne, with expertise in managing complex clinical and genetic data, will provide the information systems to translate a patient's voluminous clinical data and genetic test results into a meaningful summary for the physician. PointOne's technology includes an advanced security system to help ensure that patient privacy is maintained.

"PointOne offers large-scale analytic solutions and quick, relevant results that can be applied in the patient care setting," said Turkal. "Both consumers and employers are demanding more from the health care system today. This groundbreaking application of genetics to patient care holds great promise of fulfilling that expectation."

This is the first project undertaken since Aurora affiliated with PointOne in April of 2002.

Aurora Health Care is a community-owned Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora has care sites in more than 75 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

PointOne, an emerging clinical bioinformatics firm, provides integrated, intelligent clinical-genetic information systems that provide a framework for patient care and research.

Third Wave, a Madison-based biotechnology company, is a leading provider of genetic analysis technology.

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