U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 22 mins

Ahead of the Bell: Sequenom shares climb

The Associated Press

Shares of Sequenom Inc. climbed before markets opened Friday, a day after the genetic test maker said it will receive a U.S. patent protecting part of the process behind a test for chromosome abnormalities in pregnant women.

The San Diego company said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will issue a patent on Dec. 25. The patent will protect part of the process involved in the company's MaterniT21 PLUS test.

That's a blood test intended for women who are at high risk for a Down syndrome pregnancy. Sequenom says the test can detect the chromosomal anomaly that causes Down syndrome as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy. The test also looks for two other chromosomal disorders.

"This patent is relevant to the economic value of that test," said Kevin DeGeeter, an analyst who covers the company for Ladenburg Thalmann & Co.

He said Sequenom is involved in patent lawsuits with several competitors, and investors may be assuming that this patent may help Sequenom's chances.

"I think we're still a long way from any finality, one way or another, which way that litigation will go," he said.

Sequenom makes a number of genetic analysis products.

Its shares climbed 2.8 percent, or 13 cents, to $4.71 Friday in premarket trading.