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Jeffries Survey on Gen-Probe Offerings Forecasts 300 Panther Placements by End of 2013

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According to a recent survey conducted by investment bank Jeffries, US molecular diagnostics labs expressed "stronger than expected" interest in Gen-Probe's recently launched assays for trichomonas and human papillomavirus, as well as "notable enthusiasm" for the upcoming launch of the company's Panther molecular diagnostics system.

Jeffries interviewed more than 25 private and public labs for the survey, which found that nearly half already use Gen-Probe's trichomonas assay for the Tigris system and around 30 percent of the remaining labs were "interested" in adopting the assay. Meantime, 30 percent of Tigris users said they expect to adopt the HPV assay, which was launched in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Regarding the Panther system, which is expected to secure approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in the first half of the year, around 40 percent of responding labs "expressed an interest" in adding the system, the survey found.

Furthermore, among users of Gen-Probe's automated Tigris DTS (direct tube sampling) platform, 78 percent expressed an interest in converting to Panther.

Jeffries used these numbers to estimate that Gen-Probe's installed base for Panther systems "could exceed 300 instruments by the end of 2013, well ahead of our current forecast for 156 US placements by the end of 2013."

This forecast "does not factor any contribution from competitive wins," Jeffries stated. While 66 percent of non-Gen-Probe customers surveyed indicated an interest in Panther, "which would imply robust market share capture for the system," Jeffries said that "it is difficult to make a call on the net competitive capture rate at this juncture, given the relatively small sample size of competitive users in our survey."

Jeffries forecasts total 2012 revenues for Gen-Probe of $635.5 million, which represents 10 percent growth year over year. The bank estimates 2013 revenues of $703 million.

Gen-Probe developed Panther to complement its flagship Tigris system for automated molecular diagnostic testing. Whereas the high throughput of Tigris makes it ideal for use in high-volume clinical testing labs, Panther is intended for use in low- to mid-volume labs.

Otherwise, the platforms share many of the same technologies, including a proprietary target capture method based on capture oligomers and magnetic microparticles; and transcription-mediated amplification, an isothermal amplification method that can produce billions of RNA amplicons from a single target molecule in less than one hour.

Gen-Probe is also in the early stages of developing a new version of Panther to include real-time PCR capabilities on top of the platform's current isothermal amplification technology. The company said recently that the new system is expected to be launched in 2015 and will serve as a platform for real-time PCR-based assays developed through Prodesse, which Gen-Probe acquired in October 2009 (PCR Insider, 1/19/2012).

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