February 19, 2007 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Recently Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is closed that it was planning to acquire laboratories in other countries, particularly in South America and the Pacific Region. (See pages 5-6.) One potential acquisition candidate is Diagnósticos da América (DASA), a public laboratory company with lab facilities in several major cities in Brazil. With annual revenues in excess of US$260 million, it has existing scale to be attractive to Quest Diagnostics. Also, Brazil’s healthcare system offers further growth potential in laboratory testing. As a public company, Diagnósticos da América has regularly come to the United States to participate in investment conferences.

Cytyc Acquires Adeza

Last week, Cytyc Corporation announced that it would pay approximately $450 million to acquire Adeza Biomedical Corp. of Sunnyvale, California. Adeza’s primary product is a patented FDA-approved diagnostic test for fetal fibronectin, used to assess the risk of preterm birth.

KAISER PERMANENTE TO CREATE DATABASE WITH GENETIC INFO

Last week, a research division of Kaiser Permanente began contacting two million of its adult members in the Northern California Kaiser program. It is asking these members to support the creation of a database that will include genetic information by volunteering to provide blood or saliva samples that can be used to determine their personal genetic profile. Kaiser expects that 500,000 people will eventually contribute genetic material. This puts the size of Kaiser’s effort on par with the United Kingdom’s BioBank, and the gene bank in Iceland that has data on 275,000 individuals. The name of this project is the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH).

ADD TO: Genetic Database

In recent years, Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, launched a similar project to create a me dical database that includes personal genetic profiles of its beneficiaries. Organizers of the Geisinger and Kaiser data repositories expect to use the information to identify the genetic and environmental factors that influence common diseases. Priorities for researchers are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and asthma. Kaiser’s clinical laboratory will participate in the collection of the blood and saliva specimens for the RPGEH data repository.

GENETIC DISCRIMINATION LAW MOVES TO VOTE

With relatively little publicity, Congress has been debating a bill that would bar discrimination by employers and insurers based on genetic information. Last week, the bill passed the House Committee on Education and Labor and now moves to the full House, where it is likely to be approved. The Senate has already twice passed a version of this bill, so it is expected that a final version of the bill will be passed and become law.

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