“March 11, 2002 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Down in Orlando, Florida, Cognescenti Health Institute, now opening a newly-constructed clinical laboratory, has selected LabDat, Inc. to provide browser-based lab test ordering and results reporting. In response to the anticipated changes caused by genomic and proteomic diagnostics, Cognescenti is building a laboratory business model that is organized around advanced informatics capabilities. (See TDR, December 17, 2001.)

SPECIALTY & BECKMAN

Multi-analyte test development is the goal of a recent agreement between Specialty Laboratories, Inc. and Beckman Coulter Corporation (BC). Specialty Labs will develop multi-analyte assays on BC’s Progressive Micro-Array platforms. Beckman Coulter will have access to these assays as they are developed.

SIDE EFFECTS TO AIDS DRUG LINKED TO SPECIFIC GENES

Score one for pharmacogenomics. Two research teams, working independently, have determined that the AIDS drug, Zaigen, can cause potentially fatal side effects in individuals with specific genetic characteristics. Doc- tors at one research site, Royal Perth Hospital in Perth, Australia, are already screening AIDS patients for these genetic patterns before prescribing Ziagen or Trizivir (which also contains Ziagen). The other research team was from GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of these drugs. The preliminary studies indicate that, of the patients who experienced adverse reactions, between 50% and 70% had inherited a certain genetic variation.

ADD TO: Drug Reaction

The specific side effect is called “hypersensitivity reaction” and involves fever and a rash. It can be fatal if the patient continues taking the drug. Dr. Seth Harrington, Glaxo’s Director of HIV and Clinical Development, stated that the cost of this genetic testing could be as little as $150 per patient. This early example of performing a diagnostic test panel prior to administering a prescription drug shows how quickly specific genetic-based discoveries move toward general clinical usage.

Quest, LabCorp Make “Best” AND “Worst” Lists

Here’s a fun fact. On February 25, The Wall Street Journal published its list of Best and Worst Stock Performers. During the last three years, Laboratory Corporation of America placed third on the list, with annual compounded gains of 127.4%. Quest Diagnostics Incorporated placed ninth, at 100.4%. But as radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, “here’s the rest of the story.” On its list of the worst performers over ten years, LabCorp was ranked seventh worst, with a negative 5.3% compound return. Corning Corporation, which owned Quest prior to 1997, was 25th, with a negative .3% compound rate of return. It shows how devastating most of the 1990s was on the commercial laboratory industry.

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