Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings
) recently declared the availability of a 4th generation HIV
antigen/antibody combination assay. A new diagnostic algorithm
was also introduced to offer effective screening for HIV
infection. Following the announcement, the company's stock price
rose 1.13%, and closed at $104.33 on Nov 7.
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The New 4th generation HIV assays are equipped to simultaneously
detect both the HIV antibodies (IgG and IgM) and the HIV p24
antigen prior to seroconversion. It is estimated that on an
average, the 4th generation assay helps to detect HIV infection
in acutely infected individuals, seven days earlier than results
obtained using 3rd generation assays. The assay is an important
addition to LabCorp's test menu, which the company seeks to
expand across multiple disease states.
In addition, the new diagnostic algorithm unveiled by LabCorp is
expected to complement the findings of the assay and improve the
screening and diagnosis of HIV infection. The Clinical Laboratory
Standards Institute (CLSI) and the New York State Department of
Health have also recommended the use of the enhanced algorithm
for HIV screening.
The algorithm uses the 4th generation test as a first step. It
subsequently confirms the initial HIV-positive result using an
FDA-approved sensitive and specific immunoassay. This assay
differentiates between HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections.
Inconsistencies in results are further subjected to extensive
nucleic acid testing to identify acute infection, if any, at an
At the moment, HIV infection has reached epidemic levels all
around the globe. The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) recently estimated that around 1.14 million people in the
U.S. are currently infected with HIV, with about 207,600
infections remaining undiagnosed. It is believed that the
availability of such enhanced tests will help to break the
infection cycle of the HIV virus and bring considerable
improvement in diagnosis, treatment and control of this fatal
Per management, the 4th generation HIV screening and associated
supplemental testing will benefit HIV treatment by improving
early-stage intervention and containment of virus transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently
issued two positive evaluations of the new HIV diagnostic testing
algorithm on its online Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Both the assay and the algorithm promise to be cost-effective
without compromising on quality. The usage of these comprehensive
diagnostic products will provide physicians as well as patients
with vital information necessary for screening, diagnosis and
treatment of critical disease conditions.
Currently, the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks
that are worth a look in the medical/dental supplies industry
Align Technology Inc.
Merit Medical Systems, Inc.
). All of them carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).