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Catching the Clinical Genomics Wave

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By Jennifer Friedlin

Following its market debut in February, Third Wave Technologies did not have the most auspicious post-IPO performance. But since the end of April the Madison, Wis.-based maker of the Invader SNP-detection system has been generating some ripples.

The company’s stock, which began trading at $11, went straight downhill after its offering to an April low of $5. Since then, the share price has been gaining some ground.

Why the turnaround?

Beyond benefiting from the general marketplace rebound, Third Wave has started to demonstrate exactly how genomic data can be turned into a money-making proposition.

In mid-May the company announced that California’s Kaiser Permanente Regional Laboratory Services, part of the Kaiser Permanente HMO, signed on to use its Invader diagnostic system for a routine clinical procedure to test for mutations associated with the development of deep vein thrombosis. While Third Wave declined to offer a revenue projection for the deal, the first of its kind in the genomics space, analysts say they expect the company’s revenues to triple this year to some $30 million.

Also in May, Japan announced that it had selected Third Wave to provide assays for analyzing at least 120,000 SNPs — a deal that could lead to the development of several more commercially available assays.

For a while it looked like Third Wave, which was abandoned by Applied Biosystems last year as a takeover target and then barely got its IPO off the ground, might have been late to the game. Now, it appears Third Wave is positioning itself to become a frontrunner in the clinical diagnostic space.