New Kalorama Report Finds Proteomics a Booming Segment of the Diagnostic Market

The market for proteomics instruments, reagents, and testing for research and diagnostic applications topped $5 billion in 2013, and should continue to see rapid revenue growth, according to Kalorama Information. Demand for a better understanding of proteins and a desire for new therapies is expected to drive this growth, despite the cost pressures that research is facing in general. This finding was discussed in Kalorama’s latest report, “Proteomics Markets for Research and IVD Applications.”

As part of the Human Genome Project, researchers identified and mapped more than 20,000 genes in the human genome. However, the proteins encoded by these genes were not all identified and characterized. Kalorama notes that this is an enormous undertaking. While the genome is fixed, the proteome changes in response to various factors, such as those that affect which genes are expressed. “It’s enormously difficult to study proteins, but hard-fought discoveries made in the research enable biomarker discovery, drug discovery, new IVDs, and personalized solutions,” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information.

Many different types of technologies are being used to study proteins, with mass spectrometry, antibodies (or antibody capture), and knowledge bases serving as the three technological pillars of the Human Proteome Project. Kalorama predicts a bull market for these technologies in the future. The report also foresees that technological advances in proteomics will continue to move gradually into the clinical laboratory. This will include advances in technologies for the detection and identification of proteins, as well as the use of novel biomarkers in diagnostic assays.

LabCorp Inks Deal to Buy Covance

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) and Covance have entered an agreement under which LabCorp will acquire Covance for approximately $5.6 billion. LabCorp provides medical laboratory testing services through a national network of primary clinical laboratories and specialty testing laboratories, while Covance is a drug development company with an additional focus on nutritional analysis. This merger will join LabCorp’s clinical testing expertise with Covance’s experience in contract research and drug development. It will also leverage technologies that improve patient recruitment for clinical trials, enhance efficiency in the conduct of clinical trials, and deliver data faster to drug sponsors, physicians, and patients. Additionally, Covance’s risk-based patient monitoring tools will enhance LabCorp’s existing capabilities in predictive analytics, benefitting at-risk patients, risk-bearing physicians, and payors. With this range of offerings, the combined company aims to advance personalized medicine, improve the development of therapeutics, and drive greater research and development productivity for its pharmaceutical customers.

Chembio to Develop Point-of-Care Tests for Ebola, Dengue Fever, Cancer

Under the terms of a collaboration with Integrated BioTherapeutics (IBT), Chembio Diagnostics will combine its patented DPP technology with IBT’s proprietary Ebola reagents to develop a standalone point-of-care (POC) test for Ebola and to include an Ebola test in the company’s existing multiplex DPP Febrile Illness assay. Compared with traditional lateral flow technology, which some companies are already using to develop Ebola POC tests, DPP technology offers increased sensitivity and the ability to run multiple tests on a single patient sample. “We are facing a humanitarian crisis and global public health challenge. Development of a rapid point-of-care test for Ebola will be a critical step towards enabling early detection and quarantine that could help save countless lives,” said M. Javad Aman, president and chief scientific officer of IBT.

Chembio has also entered two separate agreements with undisclosed collaborators to develop other POC tests: one for dengue fever and another for a type of cancer. Both projects will also use the company’s DPP technology, and the cancer project represents the first application of DPP technology outside of the infectious diseases field.

Siemens and Inpeco to Automate New Quest Diagnostics Mega-Laboratory

Siemens Healthcare, in agreement with Inpeco, has won an exclusive contract to automate a new clinical laboratory of Quest Diag­nostics in Marlborough, Massa­­chusetts. This will be the first com­prehensive automation solution Quest has deployed in one of its regional mega-laboratories in the United States. When fully operational next year, the customized automation solution will transform the Marlborough lab into a continuously operating laboratory plant, enable Quest to process several thousand patient blood samples an hour, and feature one of the largest high-speed automation tracks ever built, according to a prepared statement from Siemens. This track, which is expected to be 200 meters long, will be designed to facilitate sample flow through processing, testing, and storage.

“We will realize the first step toward a laboratory medicine facility with a totally automated and traceable solution,” said Andrea Pedrazzini, president of Inpeco. “This system is designed to achieve the utmost efficiency and decrease testing turnaround times by optimizing the entire tube flow, resulting in state-of-the-art patient care.”

Mayo Clinic, Second Genome Collaborate on Microbiome-Based Therapeutics

Second Genome and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine have formed a partnership to develop therapeutic products for multiple disease indications, starting with inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic disorders, and colorectal cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, Second Genome will identify up to eight clinical indications in which the microbiome has a potential role in disease and will collaborate on microbiome research with Mayo Clinic investigators who specialize in each of the designated disease areas. Mayo Clinic will then provide human clinical samples from patients in targeted disease areas, while Second Genome will also deploy its proprietary microbiome discovery platform to identify biological pathways implicated in disease. Furthermore, Second Genome will use its platform to discover novel therapies that target these ­microbiome-mediated pathways.

“The microbiome is an important area of medical research for Mayo Clinic, and this collaboration represents a broad and significant effort in our attempt to develop therapeutics targeting microbiome-mediated pathways,” said Heidi Nelson, MD, director of the Microbiome Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.