Leading diagnostic information services provider
Quest Diagnostics Inc.
) recently introduced in vitro diagnostics major bioMerieux's
companion diagnostic test, THxID(R)-BRAF to advance precision
medicine for melanoma.
According to the company, this U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA)-approved THxID(R)-BRAF test is used for two treatments for
melanoma. The first one should be helpful in selecting patients
with melanoma whose tumors carry the BRAF V600E mutation for
treatment with dabrafenib [Tafinlar(R)]. The second one is to be
used in identifying melanoma patients whose tumors carry the BRAF
V600E or V600K mutation for treatment with trametinib
According to the company, Quest Diagnostics currently reaches
out to about half of the practicing physicians and hospitals in the
U.S. The newly developed relationship between Quest Diagnostics and
bioMerieux will ensure that this new test becomes accessible to a
vast network of patients and providers through Quest Diagnostics,
including its AmeriPath and Dermpath businesses, which specialize
in anatomic and dermatologic pathology testing.
Quest Diagnostics is upbeat about the addition of the THxID-BRAF
test to its menu. The company expects the test to
enrich its advanced dermatopathology testing line besides
reflecting its commitment to the field of precision medicine.
At present, melanoma is a major cause of death from skin
disease. As per estimates from the National Cancer Institute,
76,100 Americans will likely be diagnosed with melanoma and there
is a possibility of 9,710 deaths from this in 2014 alone. Thus, the
inclusion of bioMerieux's test should prove valuable to Quest
Diagnostics' business in this niche in the near future.
In line with the company's five-point strategy taken in 2013,
Quest Diagnostics has been focusing on areas with high potential
such as gene-based esoteric testing for cancer, cardiovascular
disease, infectious disease and neurological disorders. The company
has experienced increasing demand for gene-based and esoteric tests
compared to routine tests on account of increased esoteric mix
contributed by Athena and Celera.
Apart from the bioMerieux test, Quest Diagnostics offers the
FDA-cleared cobas 4800 BRAF V600 Mutation Test, which detects the
BRAF V600E mutation that helps detection of patients for treatment
with vemurafenib - an oral medicine designed to treat patients
whose melanoma tumors harbor the mutation. The company also
offers a laboratory-developed test for assessing BRAF mutations in
melanoma, thyroid, and colorectal cancers based on sanger
We are also upbeat about the long-term growth drivers that hold
strong deliverable potential in the upcoming period. With baby
boomers moving into Medicare, the company is expected to benefit
from continued population growth and favorable demographics. Over
the long haul, we expect Quest Diagnostics, as a provider of
low-cost diagnostic information services, to be able to garner
greater growth in this high potential but still underpenetrated
The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some
better-ranked stocks in the same industry are
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