LIFE Grows Diagnostics Portfolio

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Over the recent past Life Technologies (LIFE) has been focusing on expanding its diagnostics portfolio. To achieve this objective, the company strengthened its portfolio with the launch of Pervenio Lung RS, a risk stratification test for early stage lung cancer. This 14-gene panel test has been developed by Pinpoint Genomics, which Life Technologies acquired in July, 2012.

This test will provide immense help to a huge patient base by identifying lung cancer patients, who are at a high risk for mortality following surgery,in the early stages. In addition, the test will also aid prevention and disease management.

With a survival tenure of only 5 years for almost 50% of the early stage patients, the identification for patients at high-risk becomes crucial. This is significant as these patients have approximately 25-65% chances of dying even after a successful surgery as the disease often spreads early. It is estimated that the early stage molecular test market is around $120 million in the US and $500 million globally.

Life Technologies also acquired Navigenics in July that has brought in an established, CLIA-certified laboratory licensed throughout the US. This facility will be employed for design and validation of new diagnostic assays.

Earlier this month, Life Technologies entered into a Master Development Agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) for companion diagnostic projects. The collaboration with Bristol-Myers is in line with the company’s strategy to build partnerships with pharmaceutical majors for companion diagnostic development including participation in early-phase clinical trials. Other partnerships include those with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for MAGE-A3 cancer immunotherapy and with Gen-Probe, which was recently acquired by Hologic (HOLX).

Life Technologies enjoys a strong position in the life sciences market. We are optimistic about the company’s focus on its diagnostics franchise, which holds potential. However, economic uncertainties in Europe and unfavorable currency were the major headwinds for the company during the last reported quarter.

We have a Neutral recommendation on Life Technologies. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (‘Hold’) in the short term.

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