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HTG Molecular's Deal With Merck KGaA 'Provides Further Validation' For EdgeSeq Technology

Shanthi Rexaline

HTG Molecular Diagnostics Inc (NASDAQ: HTGM), a provider of instruments, reagents and services for molecular profiling, announced Tuesday a new master collaboration agreement with Germany's Merck KGaA(ADR) (OTC: MKKGY). 

The agreement complements HTG Molecular's previously announced master companion diagnostic agreement with Merck KGaA, and also includes a statement of work with the latter's biopharma business, EMD Serono, in the U.S. and Canada.

The Analyst

H.C. Wainwright analyst Raghuram Selvaraju reiterated a Buy rating and $6 price target for the shares of HTG Molecular.

The Thesis

The collaboration expansion further validates HTG Molecular's EdgeSeq technology, Selvaraju said in a Wednesday note. (See the analyst's track record here.) 

HTG already has two statements of work under its master assay development agreement with Qiagen NV (NASDAQ: QGEN)'s Qiagen Manchester Limited, or QML, and a supplement agreement with QML and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY), for the development of next-gen sequencing-based companion diagnostic assays.

"We continue to believe that the majority of HTG's future revenue growth could be driven by service for biopharmaceutical customers and potential recurring revenues from commercialized companion diagnostics," Selvaraju said. 

EdgeSeq technology is being used in a clinical trial with Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN)'s NGS technology to investigate a novel therapeutic approach using a combination of three targeted therapies for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, according to H.C. Wainwright. 

If these therapies using EdgeSeq technology are successful, the analyst said he sees better future financial prospects for HTG Molecular.

Additionally, module four of the pre-market approval, or PMA, for the ALKPlus assay is on track for submission in the second quarter of 2018, the firm said.

"The HTG EdgeSeq ALKPlus assay is an in vitro diagnostic intended to measure and analyze mRNA ALK gene rearrangements in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lung tumor specimens from patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer," according to H.C. Wainwright. 

The Price Action

HTG Molecular shares, which were down over 13 percent year-to-date until Tuesday, are poised to move into the green for the year in the wake of the announcement.

HTG Molecular was soaring 12 percent to $2.17 at the time of publication. 

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Latest Ratings for HTGM

Date Firm Action From To
Aug 2016 Rodman & Renshaw Initiates Coverage on Buy
Aug 2015 Canaccord Genuity Maintains Buy
Jun 2015 JMP Securities Initiates Coverage on Market Outperform

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