In a bid to expand its pipeline of Personalized Healthcare assays, Qiagen NV (QGEN) acquired an exclusive worldwide license for the calreticulin (:CALR) biomarker from CeMM Vienna, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Qiagen retains a strong pipeline of promising biomarkers under development for Personalized Healthcare tests pertaining to rheumatoid arthritis, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma, lymphoma and other cancers. Post acquisition of the license, Qiagen will develop a molecular diagnostic test for CALR mutations that will help healthcare providers to make more informed therapeutic decisions.
According to the CeMM and Medical University of Vienna research teams, mutations of the CALR biomarker are found in approximately 15% of cases of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a group of blood disorders.
The proposed CALR diagnostic test is expected to be highly compatible with Qiagen’s kits for a key mutation of the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene. Qiagen already holds a license for the JAK2 V617F mutation, which is present in about 75% of patients with MPN. Thus, the JAK2 and CALR biomarkers coupled together, should offer a comprehensive and enhanced approach for healthcare professionals to treat patients suffering from myeloprofilerative disorders.
Qiagen’s Personalized Healthcare assays fall under Molecular Diagnostics, an important customer class, which contributed 50% to Qiagen’s sales in 2013. This leading provider of advanced sample & assay technologies has planned to develop tests for identification of CALR mutations based on its Rotor-Gene Q MDx automated platforms.
Qiagen has been gaining momentum in its leadership in Personalized Healthcare – a major growth driver in 2013. The company kicked off 2014 with the launch of the new therascreen IDH1/2 RGQ kit in Europe in January, and entered into a new collaboration with Mayo Clinic to develop diagnostics for cholangiocarcinoma (CCA, also known as bile duct cancer) by utilizing biomarkers for IDH1 and IDH2 gene mutations.
With nearly 3 million people worldwide suffering from myeloproliferative neoplasms, the proposed test to be developed by Qiagen should have considerable demand in the market. Also, with the launch of the first set of biofluid nucleic acid kits scheduled in 2014, the company’s prospects appear strong.
It is worth noting in this regard that Qiagen had announced a strategic partnership with Exosome Diagnostics on Jul 23, 2013 to develop an all-inclusive range of biofluid nucleic acid kits.
Qiagen presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Some better-ranked stocks in the broader healthcare sector that warrant a look are Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN) and ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ANIP). All these companies sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).