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Third Wave Sells Diagnostics to California HMO

NEW YORK, May 17 - Third Wave Technologies said Thursday that California's Kaiser Permanente Regional Laboratory Services signed on as the first health maintenance organization to use the Invader diagnostic system for routine clinical procedures.

"This goes beyond routine testing to being implemented by a large HMO," Lance Fors, CEO of Third Wave, told GenomeWeb.

Under the terms of the deal, Kaiser will use the Invader operating system to test for mutations associated with the development of deep vein thrombosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that can result from complications following surgery.

"Early diagnosis and preventative medicine have not only been shown to save lives, but by avoiding recurrent venous thrombosis, for instance, we can use our resources more effectively," Mehdi Jamehdor, director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group's Genetic Testing Laboratory, said in a statement.

Fors would not disclose the terms of the deal but said the list price per patient test ranged from $20 - $25. Wall Street expects the company to post revenues of about $30 million in 2001, up from $11.2 million in 2000, Fors said.

He noted that the company is also planning to launch virology diagnostics in late 2001 or early 2002 and is working on several dozen additional products for cardiovascular diseases and cancer, among others.

And, the Japanese government is currently generating 100 million genotypes using Invader tests, a PCR-free format that can be applied for genotyping and gene expression analysis.

Fors said that Third Wave was currently trying to set the standard for the clinical diagnostic market, noting that over the past year the Madison, Wis.-based company had accelerated its efforts to enter the research and clinical settings.

Despite Applied Biosystems failed effort to acquire Third Wave last year, Fors said the company was succeeding as an independent entity and was now considering the possibility of building its business through acquisitions of its own.

"We are looking opportunistically for synergistic opportunities," Fors said.

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