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GWDN Index Nearly Flat in January

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The GenomeWeb Daily News Index was nearly flat from the end of December to the end of January, as biotech stocks in general did not benefit from the modest rise in the broader market.

Overall, the Index was up less than 1 percent, even with the small gain for the Nasdaq Biotech Index for the month, but trailing the Nasdaq, which was up around 2 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which increased nearly three percent in January.

Only three of the 34 firms in the GWDN Index — Accelr8 (+31 percent), CombiMatrix (+27 percent), and GenMark Diagnostics (+14 percent) — increased in the double digits.

Accelr8's shares rose on unusually high volume on Jan. 18, prompting the firm to release a statement saying that its policy is not to comment on unusual market activity or rumors. The firm has not released any news since then.

CombiMatrix's shares also climbed throughout the month without any clear catalysts, and GenMark has traded between a low of $4.13 on Jan. 5 and a high of $5.34 on Jan. 19.

Among the larger firms in the Index, shares of Illumina gained more than 9 percent during the month. Early in January, it reported preliminary Q4 revenues of $260 million, a 44 percent increase over Q4 2009. It also purchased Epicentre Biotechnologies, a provider of nucleic acid sample preparation reagents and enzymes used in sequencing and microarray applications, and launched its new low-cost sequencing platform, called MiSeq.

Four of the firms in the Index — Myriad Genetics (-13 percent), Nanosphere (-16 percent), Rosetta Genomics (-12 percent), and Sequenom (-15 percent) — had double-digit declines.

Nanosphere's shares dropped in the last week of the month, while Myriad slipped at the end of the month after Sanofi-Aventis announced that in a Phase III trial its PARP-inhibitor, iniparib (BSI-201), did not meet clinical trial endpoints. The market punished Myriad because the firm's BRCA test has been shown to identify patients likely to respond to PARP inhibitors, though Sanofi did not use BRACAnalysis to select patients for the Phase III trial.