Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cancer Diagnostics: Expect More Mergers and Partnerships

Mergers partnerships and licensing agreements will flourish in the nearly five billion-dollar cancer testing industry, according to Kalorama Information.   The healthcare market research firm says that  newer protein and molecular cancer tests and test devices are more complex and no one company has all of these solutions.  This is one of many findings in Kalorama Information’s report, The World Market for Cancer Diagnostics.

Newer protein and molecular cancer tests and test devices are more complex and use a mix of various technologies including: sample preparation, microfluidics, more sensitive labels, imaging tools and bioinformatics.  No company, big or small, owns all of the technology needed to develop these new tests and systems.

Instead, Rosen argues, companies will have to get the pieces they do not have from partners.   Kalorama has found the industry for cancer diagnostics is beginning to see more and more consolidation, and collaboration between the major players and emerging companies, and between innovators.  Mergers, such as the combo of Gen-Probe and Hologic or the announced Life Technologies acquisition by Thermo Fisher, allow companies to complete their product development by providing missing pieces.  

 But mergers aren’t the most common solution, according to the report.   There has also has been a significant movement of collaborations and licensing agreements: Philips using NEC digital pathology technology, Agilent working with BGI for sequencing,  Abbott using Rubicon's MethylPlex technology, Roche licensing Response Genetics' HER2 gene expression technology, or Qiagen using Insight Genetics' ALK gene, lung cancer to cite just a few.    The activity covers molecular techniques, information technology software, probes and antibodies. They also are evidence of the increasing globalization diagnostics. 

 For the past few years acquisition activity has been extraordinary, Kalorama estimates that there were some 100 such agreements.

        According to Kalorama, this trend is very different from the distribution agreements between larger IVD firms and smaller test developers of the 1980s and 1990s.  The new agreements are struck much earlier in the product life cycle and sometimes even in the discovery stage for new markers.  The goal is to shorten time to market by outsourcing strategic areas of its analyte research, development and validation effort to larger and smaller companies as the fit seems right.  In the past few years IVDs and cancer testing technologies and tests in particular have become more sophisticated - involving biochips, patterns of proteins and genetic markers, disease algorithms and bioinformatics to name a few.

        These cross-pollinating events are very significant; the result will be more precise and more effectively marketed new tests.  A number of totally disparate phenomena have come together to advance cancer diagnostics.  Decreases in life science grants has encouraged companies active in this space to migrate their technologies for clinical applications.  The result is the entry of companies such as Caliper Life Sciences, Illumina, Affymetrix and Life Technologies to the diagnostics market with products and test services for cancer management.

Competition is fierce in the industry. All of the top IVD companies are represented. Kalorama's report details more than 200 companies that are involved in cancer testing, from top tier IVD giants such as Abbott, Novartis and Roche, device giants such as Becton Dickinson and Siemens, to molecular-focused companies such as Gen-Probe, Bio-Rad. Then there are legions of specialist cancer testing companies. The report contains market sizes and forecasts for a wide array of technology segments. Kalorama's report also discusses trends and provides analyst conclusions about the market. The report can be purchased at Kalorama Information at