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Sequenom Teams with LifeCodexx on Prenatal Test Services in Europe

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Sequenom announced today that it has partnered with LifeCodexx to provide prenatal laboratory testing services in Europe.

The firms intend to develop and launch a trisomy 21 laboratory-developed test, as well as other tests for aneuploidies, in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and potentially other countries. The pact with Konstanz, Germany-based LifeCodexx, which has an initial term of five years, marks Sequenom's first European commercial partnership for non-invasive prenatal diagnostics.

"We are now in a strong position to exploit the clinical utility and proprietary science behind the noninvasive detection of trisomy 21 and eventually other aneuploidies using shotgun sequencing as initially developed by Dr. Dennis Lo and his team," Michael Lutz, CEO of LifeCodexx, said in a statement.

Under terms of the alliance, Sequenom granted LifeCodexx licenses to key European patents and patents pending that will enable it to develop and commercialize a non-invasive aneuploidy test utilizing circulating cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma. LifeCodexx will pay the San Diego-based molecular diagnostics firm certain upfront and minimum annual royalty payments as well as royalties based on sales of testing services.

Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Last week, Sequenom reported that its second-quarter revenues rose 17 percent year over year as the firm said it remains on track to launch its T21 laboratory-developed test in the US following the publication of clinical data on the test, which is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.

LifeCodexx recently announced that it and partner GATC Biotech had begun a clinical validation study of a non-invasive, prenatal diagnostic test for Trisomy 21 based on Illumina's HiSeq 2000 next-generation sequencing platform, the same one used for Sequenom's test.

"We view the licensing agreement as further validation of [Sequenom's] dominant IP position," Oppenheimer analyst David Ferreiro said in a note published this morning.

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