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In Brief This Week: Quest Diagnostics, Abbott, Biocept, Biocartis, Angle, Virax Biolabs

NEW YORK – Quest Diagnostics said this week that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of certain assets of the laboratory services business of NewYork-Presbyterian. 

Under the deal, which Quest first announced in February, the lab company will obtain NewYork-Presbyterian lab assets in New York City and the Tri-State Area, while the health system will continue to own and operate hospital lab services, including its anatomic pathology services. 

Abbott announced this week that it has joined the Climate Amplified Disease and Epidemics consortium, a group that will use data science technology and diagnostic testing to determine and possibly mitigate the impact climate change has on disease outbreaks. It consists of more than 100 scientists from public health agencies, academia, and industry who will develop technologies that can aggregate environmental, weather, and viral sequencing data sets to predict if conditions could cause a disease outbreak, Abbott said in a statement. If a potential outbreak is identified, rapid surveillance testing and resources can be sent to that area to prevent further spread, the company added. Abbott will provide viral sequencing and testing data and can provide diagnostic testing for potential outbreaks, it noted. The consortium's initial work will begin with disease surveillance in Africa and expand to other countries often impacted by infectious disease outbreaks. 

Biocept said this week that its 2022 revenues dropped 58 percent year over year to $25.9 million from $61.2 million in 2021. The San Diego-based molecular diagnostic development firm attributed the falloff to a decline in RT-PCR testing volume and "changes in implicit price concessions due to payor class changes." It also noted that the number of commercial accessions in 2022 declined to 294,182 in 2022 from 532,520 in 2021. 

Net loss for last year was $32.1 million, or $1.89 per share, compared to net loss of $2.8 million, or $.19 per share, a year ago. Biocept's R&D expenses grew to $6.2 million in 2022 from $5.0 million in 2021, while its SG&A costs rose to $23.2 million from $20.9 million. The company ended 2022 with $12.9 million in cash. 

In a statement, Samuel Riccitelli, Biocept’s chairman and interim president and CEO, noted cost-efficiency steps the firm has taken, including enhanced lab operations, a reduction in services from outside vendors, and a trim in headcount by more than 40 percent from pre-COVID testing levels. Its academic center and hospital customers that want to continue having access to testing with the company’s CNSide assay for suspected CNS metastases in patients with carcinomas or melanomas will also be required to enter into service agreements with the company, he said. 

Biocartis said this week that its first quarter product revenues rose 2 percent year over year on rising sales of the company's oncology cartridges. The Mechelen, Belgium-based molecular diagnostics instrument and assay developer reported product revenues of €10.8 million ($11.9 million) for the quarter, comprised of about €8 million in oncology cartridge sales, €500,000 from SARS-CoV-2 products, and €2.2 million from instruments. The firm said it ended Q1 with a gross profit of €3.8 million, up about 9 percent from the €3.5 million recorded in Q1 2022, and a cash position of €43.9 million. The firm predicts product revenues will rise between 25 percent and 30 percent for the fiscal year. 

Biocartis noted among accomplishments in the quarter that it received US Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance in March for the firm's microsatellite instability assay, which it said will pave the way for substantial growth, and launched its research-use Idylla IDH1-2 Mutation Assay Kit, which the company expects will help it launch more assays using its Flex technology that shortens development time as well as expand its offerings for liquid biopsy-based monitoring. 

Angle said this week that its preliminary 2022 revenues were flat year over year at £1.0 million ($1.24 million) while its loss for the year grew to £21.7 million from £15.0 million a year ago. The UK-based liquid biopsy firm attributed the increased loss to planned investments. Angle finished 2022 with cash and cash equivalents of £31.9 million. For 2023 it said that product and service revenues are progressing well and Q1 2023 revenues are ahead of the year-ago numbers. It noted that a deal with BioView to develop a HER2 breast cancer test is expected to result in revenues of £1.2 million in the initial phase. 

Virax Biolabs said this week that the firm had reached an agreement for distribution of its CE-marked Marburg Virus Real-Time PCR kit in certain European markets, including Germany and France. A spokesperson said the firm is not identifying the agreement partner or disclosing financial or other details of the distribution deal. 

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on 360Dx.