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Sequenom will review genetic analysis unit options

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Sequenom said Monday it will consider strategic options for its genetic analysis unit, which could lead to a sale of the business.

Sequenom said its board of directors has authorized a review of alternatives for the business but said it has not made a decision about any transactions. The company said it has retained Jefferies LLC as a financial adviser.

The genetic analysis business provides products and services that are used in research by companies in biomedicine, molecular medicine and agriculture, among other applications. Sequenom also makes MaterniT21, a blood test intended for women who are at high risk of carrying a fetus with Down syndrome. Sequenom says the test can detect the chromosomal anomaly that causes Down syndrome as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy.

In August Sequenom said it would lay off 75 employees, or about 12 percent of its workforce, to cut costs as it struggles to collect revenue from insurers, Medicare and Medicaid.

The genetic analysis division brought in almost half of Sequenom's $89.7 million in revenue in 2012, but that portion has fallen as MaterniT21 sales have improved. Sequenom has reported $73.3 million in revenue over the first six months of 2013, and $19.7 million, or about a quarter of that total, came from the genetic analysis unit.

Sequenom Inc. shares lost 7 cents to $2.76 on Monday. The stock picked up 4 cents to $2.80 in after-hours trading. The stock peaked at a 52-week high of $5.36 in January and is now trading at annual lows.