Rosetta Genetics, Aureon Biosciences, Plus Diagnostics, Atherotech, Sequenom


TO CUT EXPENSES AND SHIFT MORE FUNDING toward sales of its proprietary molecular tests, Rosetta Genomics says it will eliminate 35 jobs. The company, based in Israel, operates a clinical laboratory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia laboratory employs eight people, but Rosetta did not disclose whether staff layoffs would happen at this location. The company is selling diagnostic tests that use microRNA technology and has a sales force to develop use of its proprietary tests in oncology.

“We have begun to see a significant increase in demand for our tests since the launch of our dedicated oncology sales team,” noted Kenneth A. Berlin, CEO and President of Rosetta Genomics. “As expected, there is the usual lag between generating demand and getting paid for these tests by the applicable payers. We recently submitted our first claims to payers.”


IN WHAT WAS A SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT TO ITS EMPLOYEES, Aureon Biosciences, Inc., of Yonkers, New York, suddenly closed its laboratory on October 7 and laid off 95 employees. This news was reported by Westfair Business Publications, in White Plains, New York.

The company offered two proprietary tissue-based tests for prostate cancer that provided prognostic information to physicians and their patients. The company was founded in 2002.

“The decision was made, for reasons unclear, to pull the funding from the company and put the company’s intellectual property up for sale,” stated Michael Oates, President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. (HVEDC), in an interview published by

Aureon’s diagnostic technology had attracted several prominent laboratory industry executives. Kevin Johnson, formerly CEO of Dianon Systems, Inc., prior to its sale to Laboratory Corporation of America, has served as its Chairman since 2003. Vijay Aggarwal, Ph.D., was CEO and President through 2009. Aggarwal previously held executive positions at Quest Diagnostics Incorporated and SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories.

Aureon’s current CEO and President is Robert Shovlin. He had come to Aureon from Quest Diagnostics and had earlier held a sales management position at Dianon Systems.


DESPITE A TEPID ECONOMY, three laboratory companies are expanding by building new clinical laboratory facilities. The companies are PLUS Diagnostics, Sequenom, Inc., and Atherotech Diagnostics Lab.

Earlier this month, PLUS Diagnostics, with headquarters in Union, New Jersey, revealed plans to open a new laboratory facility in Houston, Texas. The lab is expected to become operational by the end of the year.

The company said that this lab will provide anatomic pathology services to gastroenterologists and urologists in Texas and the greater Southwest region. Plus Diagnostics indicated that the Houston lab may later serve dermatologists and women’s health.

The Houston lab will be the third facility PLUS Diagnostics has built in the past two years. In 2009, the company opened a new facility in Union, as well as a laboratory in Irvine, California. The lab in Irvine was its first on the West Coast.

On October 12, the office of North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue released news that Sequenom, based in San Diego, California, was planning to build a molecular diagnostics clinical laboratory in the state. The new lab facility is expected to be located in the Research Triangle Park area.

According to The Herald-Sun of Raleigh, Sequenom was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the state and the new laboratory is expected to employ 242 people. The availability of medical technologists apparently played a role in Sequenom’s decision to establish a laboratory in North Carolina.

“In finding trained lab technicians who can do these very complex tests, many of the other states we looked at just didn’t have that workforce available,” stated Paul Maier, Sequenom’s Chief Financial Officer, in The Herald-Sun story. “We have that workforce available in North Carolina.”

Research Triangle Park is where Laboratory Corporation of America has based much of its advanced molecular and genetic testing since establishing its Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology there in the late 1980s. That is one reason why Sequenom believes it will have a pool of experienced medical technologists from which it can recruit.

Sequenom is still negotiating a lease on a property. It said that it expects the new lab facility will become operational in the second half of 2012.

It was October 3 when Atherotech Diagnostics Lab of Birmingham, Alabama, announced that it would expand its main laboratory facility by 30%. Atherotech markets a proprietary diagnostic test it calls VAP (Vertical Auto Profile). This assay measures cholesterol markers associated with heart disease. It also has other clinical laboratory services.

In a press release, Atherotech CEO Michael Mullen said that the company’s staff had already grown by 30% during 2011. He predicted that another 40% increase in staff would take place during 2012. Work to expand the lab facility is expected to be completed in 2012.


MANY LAB ADMINISTRATORS may not have noticed that the recently-updated list of “never events” includes two items that directly apply to clinical laboratories.

When the National Quality Forum (NQF), in Washington, DC, updated its list of serious reportable events (SREs) earlier this year, it added four new SREs. Two of the new SREs related to lab testing activities.

The first SRE is: “Patient death or serious injury resulting from the irretrievable loss of an irreplaceable biological specimen.” The NQF committee that considered this SRE said serious injury could result from progress of an undiagnosed disease or the threat of disease that changes the patient’s risk status for life.

The second SRE is: “Patient death or serious injury resulting from failure to follow up or communicate laboratory, pathology, or radiology test results.” The committee members acknowledged that failure to follow up or communicate significantly raises the risk of death or serious injury.

The NQF Board of Directors approved the 29 SREs listed in its report, Serious Reportable Events in Healthcare–2011 Update: A Consensus Report.

“This newly expanded list of serious reportable events across multiple settings provides a critical opportunity to learn from mistakes and take swift action to improve patient safety,” said Janet Corrigan, NQF’s President and CEO. The first NQF-endorsed list of SREs was released in 2002.


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