Luminex Corporation (LMNX) recently announced that its xMAP Technology will play a significant role in the biobank profiling research within the Human Protein Atlas (:HPA) project. Shares of Luminex went up roughly 1% in the trading session following the news release.
Luminex’s xMAP Technology will be deployed by the HPA project to perform flexible and high-throughput screening of biomarkers using the HPA antibodies on large numbers of samples. The same technology will then be used to develop downstream biomarker validation assays.
In the latest release of the protein atlas, the HPA announced coverage of over 80% of the human protein-coding genes and RNA (Ribonucleic acid) expression data for more than 90% of the genes. The goal of this pioneering project is to explore the entirety of the human proteome using antibody-based proteomics.
How The xMAP Technology Works
Luminex’s xMAP Technology combines advanced fluidics, optics and digital signal processing with proprietary microsphere technology to deliver multiplexed assay capabilities.
Microsphere beads – either polystyrene or paramagnetic, are color-coded in up to 500 distinct sets. Each bead set can be coated with a reagent specific to a particular bioassay, allowing the capture and detection of specific analytes from a sample.
Inside the Luminex analyzer, a light source excites the internal dyes that identify each microsphere particle, as well as any reporter dye captured during the assay. Multiple readings are made on each bead set, which further validates the results.
Using this process, the xMAP Technology allows rapid and precise multiplexing of up to 500 unique bioassays within a single sample.
The Human Protein Atlas Project
The Swedish Human Protein Atlas project, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, has been set up to allow for a systematic exploration of the human proteome using Antibody-Based Proteomics. The Human Protein Atlas, which started as a small research project at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in 2000, today involves more than 150 scientists in 17 countries.
In addition to its own research, the HPA collaborates with partners to identify interesting candidate biomarkers for a wide range of diseases. The xMAP technology enables scientists to measure multiple proteins in a single well. The high-throughput biomarker screening approach combines Luminex’s technology with several thousand antibodies through multiplexed screening of over 380 targets per well per run for the research.
Luminex is positive about the life science research market and anticipates continued favorable trends with respect to demand from its clinical customers. Though the company’s assays business faced reimbursement headwinds in 2013, management is certain that these macroeconomic factors will subside in 2014. The company continues to see strong demand for its technology and plans to execute new product development programs in 2014.
Luminex expects revenues in the range of $225 to $240 million for 2014, an increase of 5 to 12% over 2013. The Zacks Consensus Estimate of $230 million lies within the guided range.
Luminex presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks worth reckoning in the medical instrument industry are Cynosure, Inc. (CYNO), Syneron Medical Ltd. (ELOS) and ABIOMED, Inc. (ABMD). While both Cynosure and Syneron Medical carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), ABIOMED holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).