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Digene's Long Road Towards a Blockbuster

Executive Summary

After spending a decade developing its technology and product development capabilities, centered on testing for human papillomavirus, the cause of cervical cancer, Digene Corp. is growing its top line and finally gaining visibility. Now, the question is whether it can validate its test clinically and secure its market position, which means dislodging an entrenched cytology infrastructure. If successful, the company could become a superstar. On the other hand, its proprietary position could be undermined by other cervical cancer markers that appear downstream of initial HPV infection and have a higher correlation with disease. And Digene's focus on the HPV product opportunity has limited its efforts in developing its core technology at a time when other companies are dedicating significant resources to similar efforts.

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The October introduction of Gen-Probe’s new cervical cancer screening test may up the stakes in the battle over market share in testing for HPV, the cause of cervical cancer. That’s good news for several companies. One is OncoHealth, which is developing a low-cost protein-based test for direct measurement of E6E7, two important oncoproteins associated with HPV progression to cancer that are a part of Gen-Probe’s new test panel.

Taking Stock Of Qiagen

Since its acquisition of Digene in 2007, Qiagen's business mix has shifted significantly towards molecular diagnostics even as the company remains true to its founding premise of making things simpler for customers. It has broadened its skill set in nucleic acid analysis with multiple acquired and licensed technologies for platform development while focusing on high volume tests in women's health and infectious diseases and new ties with pharma. Expect its acquisition pattern to continue.

Taking Stock Of Qiagen

Since its acquisition of Digene in 2007, Qiagen's business mix has shifted significantly towards molecular diagnostics even as the company remains true to its founding premise of making things simpler for customers. It has broadened its skill set in nucleic acid analysis with multiple acquired and licensed technologies for platform development while focusing on high volume tests in women's health and infectious diseases and new ties with pharma. Expect its acquisition pattern to continue.

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