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QIAGEN Partners Inovio to Develop Companion Diagnostics


Qiagen N.V. QGEN recently formed a companion diagnostic partnership with pharmaceutical major Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. INO. This tie-up is aimed at creating a liquid biopsy companion diagnostic test to guide the selection of patients, who would benefit from Inovio’s VGX-3100. This is Inovio’s DNA-based immunotherapy for the treatment of cervical dysplasia caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).

VGX-3100 is a late-stage investigational product candidate, for which the company aims to make regulatory submissions by 2021. Per QIAGEN, VGX-3100 has thepotential to become the first treatment of HPV infection related to the cervix. This is also going to be the first non-surgical treatment of precancerous cervical lesions associated with HPV.

How Strategic is the Deal?

VGX-3100 claims to make a dramatic difference in the detection of HPV infections and in treating precancerous disease as well. QIAGEN believes, its Sample to Insight workflows and experience in developing diagnostic solutions for Precision Medicine in immuno-oncology will perfectly compliment Inovio is this respect. The company is currently looking forward to utilize its experience in HPV-related molecular testing and cervical cancer in alliance with Inovio.

Taking into consideration that HPV is currently the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and the major cause for cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common cancer among women, we believe, this deal will be perfectly strategic and well-timed in favour of QIAGEN.

In this front, we note that per World Health Organization (WHO), there were reports of 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 311,000 deaths in 2018. In fact, globally,300 million women are currently estimated to have been infected by HPV and about 30 million additional cases progressed to precancerous stage. The high-risk HPV 16 and HPV 18 genotypes are anticipated to cause at least 70% of cervical cancers.

QIAGEN’s Progress in the Field of Precision Medicine

Within this space, the company is advancing well with its testing menu expansion strategy. By virtue of the DiaSorin partnership, the company is significantly raising its bar of automated TB testing.

In April, it achieved the U.S. regulatory approval and launched a new companion diagnostic testing to assist in treatment decisions pertaining to urothelial cancer. The FDA nod for the new therascreen FGFR Kit as a companion diagnostic will help directing the use of the newly approved FGFR kinase inhibitor, BALVERSA (erdafitinib), developed by Janssen Biotech, Inc.

With this win, QIAGEN now has five FDA approvals for companion diagnostics. The company’s current portfolio boasts more than 25 natural collaboration agreements with leading pharma giants worldwide.

Share Price Performance

Over the past three months, shares of the company have outperformed its industry. The stock has dipped 2.9% compared with the industry’s 8.7% decline.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

QIAGEN currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Two better-ranked stocks in the broader medical space are Masimo Corporation MASI AND CONMED Corporation CNMD, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Masimo’s long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 16.1%

CONMED’s long-term earnings growth rate is expected at 13.3%.

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