“February 26, 2001 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Multiplex testing on a single specimen is getting ever closer to the clinical marketplace. On February 19, LINCO Research, Inc. and Luminex Corporation announced an agreement that calls for LINCO to develop, manufacture, and market multianalyte immunoassay kits using Luminex’s LabMap™ technology. LINCO says it has immediate availability for an “8-plex” kit that can simultaneously measure eight human cytokines in serum or tissue culture media. Luminex has agreements with BioRad and Abbott Laboratories that call for development of multiplexed diagnostic assays.

DYNACARE FALLS FROM INVESTOR FAVOR

For reasons yet unknown, some Wall Street investors lost their interest in Dynacare. On January 1, Dynacare’s share price was $10, equal to its initial public offering (IPO) in November. However, its share price fell steadily, hitting a low of $5.56 per share on February 22.

EEOC SUES TO STOP DNA BLOOD TESTING OF EMPLOYEES

It’s been all debate until now. Controversy about genetic testing of employees by employers has now become a real-world court case. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa on February 12, 2001. Burlington Northern had tested 20 of about 125 employees who filed claims for carpal-tunnel syndrome injuries to “determine whether there was any evidence that the claimed carpal-tunnel injury may have been the result of a genetic predisposition as opposed to a job-related injury.”

MORE ON: EMPLOYEE GENETIC TESTING

The day following the EEOC lawsuit, Burlington Northern said it would cease DNA blood testing of its employees. The EEOC said it would continue to pursue its investigation of these issues. There is growing concern that employers will increasingly use genetic testing as a way to eliminate employees who are predisposed to certain health conditions. The legal issues may eventually expand to affect labs which do such genetic testing. It is not known which clinical laboratory was doing the genetic testing for Burlington Northern.

NICHOLS EXECS JOIN GREAT SMOKIES LAB

A team of executives formerly with Quest Diagnostics and Nichols Institute has migrated from hip Orange County, California to the “backwoods” forests of the Smoky Mountains to join Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory, located in Asheville, North Carolina. Frank Taylor, Ted Hull, and John Phillips left a multi-billion dollar lab to cross the continent and join an entrepreneurial lab now breaking new ground in diagnostic testing designed to support “functional medicine.”

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