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CombiMatrix Leads GWDN Index for December as Sequestration Fears Fail to Make a Dent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Shares of CombiMatrix jumped around 89 percent for the month of December to lead all of the stocks that comprise the GenomeWeb Daily News Index.

It was an eventful month for the Irvine, Calif.-based molecular diagnostics developer, which undertook a one-for-10 reverse split of its stock on Dec. 5. It also raised $2.5 million in a private placement of preferred stock and regained compliance with a Nasdaq listing requirement.

However, a primary driver in the spike for the firm's share price was the publication of a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, which called for microarray-based tests to become a standard of care in prenatal diagnostics. Though CombiMatrix's technology was not used in a study to support the recommendation — those of Affymetrix and Agilent Technologies were — lead author Ronald Wapner, professor and vice chairman for research of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, is a member of CombiMatrix's scientific advisory board.

Only one other firm in the GWDN Index managed a double-digit percentage increase in its stock for the month: Accelr8 Technology, which now goes by the name Accelerate Diagnostics and moved from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq last week. Its shares climbed around 12 percent for the month.

Despite fears of the negative consequences if sequestration took effect — a bill was agreed to last night by Congress to avoid the "fiscal cliff" but only deferred a potential sequestration by two months — the stocks of genomics research and molecular diagnostics firms were largely unaffected. Overall, the GWDN Index was up nearly 2 percent for December, and some of the firms with the greatest exposure to government funding, such as Life Technologies and Illumina, didn't appear to be affected by the potential for lower government spending on research.

Among the leading decliners in the GWDN Index for the month were Vermillion (-10 percent) and GenMark Diagnostics (-9 percent), both of which pulled back from double-digit gains in November.

The GWDN Index outpaced the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which gained a fraction of 1 percent for the month, as did the Nasdaq. The Nasdaq Biotech Index dropped 1 percent.

CombiMatrix's Nov. 30 share price in the table below has been adjusted to reflect the one-for-10 reverse stock split.