News and Comments


  Friday, November 15, 2013


Illumina, Roche and Fairness

  Thursday, February 09, 2012

Illumina (ILMN) is occupying the center stage these days. Roche’s persistent attempts to acquire ILMN, has opened investors’ eyes on the importance of this firm’s technology in moving away from the road of stagnation to that of innovation. Innovation is the insurance that guarantees the survival and growth of the drug companies in the future that has already begun. Illumina’s technologies and marketed state-of-the-art sequencers and gene analyzers have been a major contributor to the flourishing of information about the origins of diseases at the molecular level.  This capability, which lured Roche, was overlooked by Wall Street investors who have recently caused a selloff in the stock for theorized reasons. The real value of Illumina resides in its indispensability as the cornerstone of future advancement in medical diagnosis and treatment. With all the new-targeted drugs on the market and in the firms’ pipelines, the current diagnostic and treatment statuses are still far from perfect. More...


  Thursday, October 27, 2011

Has the time come now for this firm to bear the fruit of its long-term efforts? Much has happened for Onyx (ONXX) in one month – all good news and all promising news for a company that is already a member in the club of companies that have important approved drugs, which enabled them to grow and become more achieving. The first good news came when Onyx announced filing NDA with the FDA for the approval of its new generation proteasome inhibitor carfilzomib, for relapsed or relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and solid tumors. This news was followed by Onyx announcing it has entered into a new agreement with its partner Bayer, upon, which Onyx obtained rights for Bayer’s late-stage cancer compound regorafenib. Yes, a new agreement that gives Onyx royalties on a very important and successful Bayer’s cancer drug sales, in addition to contracting Onyx sales force to promote regorafenib, along with Bayer sales representatives, in the United States.   More...

SEQUENOM Announces the Date of Launch of the Non-Invasive Down Syndrome

  Saturday, May 07, 2011

When Sequenom (SQNM) was welcoming analysts and shareholders who are “interested in discussing the results for the first quarter of 2011,” the firm’s CEO was quite aware that most attendees were, in fact, much more interested in the progress of the firm’s plans for the non-invasive prenatal tests, especially the Down Syndrome test. Shareholders, he knew, are interested in reading the future of Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM). As a matter of fact, that’s what investors in development-stage biotech firms and small firms generating poor revenues firms on the road to realizing their dreams should look for i.e., the firm’s technologies and programs. In the case of Sequenom, its success in bringing non-invasive predictive prenatal tests to the market, especially, the promised Down Syndrome test, is a game changer that could either make this firm or break it. Meeting or exceeding expectations and promises of controlling expenses even if they lead to 25% reduction in losses, would be of minimal or no impact at all when the fate of the test is officially declared. More...

A New State-Of-The-Art Diagnostic Test

  Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The Biotechnology Revolution: A New State-Of-The-Art Diagnostic Test

Genomics are changing the way medicine is being practiced, bringing to the labs state-of-the-art diagnostic tests that do much more than ruling in, or out diseases. The new laboratory tests enable physicians to determine the most effective treatment options for their patients’ diseases, to monitor the disease progression and install the treatment at the right time.  This is no dream any longer, but reality. The latest news about achievements in this domain comes from Life Technologies (LIFE) and Asuragen, which announced yesterday they have achieved CE-marking and commercial launch in Europe of the BCR/ABL1 Quant™ Test that  enables clinicians to monitor and treat patients afflicted with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Asuragen's clinically validated and cGMP manufactured the BCR/ABL1 Quant™ Test, which is  distributed by Life Technologies (LIFE) and runs on its Applied Biosystems’ CE-marked 7500 Fast Dx Real-Time PCR Instrument™. The test for leukemia progression is a quantitative in vitro diagnostic test. It helps doctors determine the most effective treatment options for CML. The test monitors the BCR-ABL1 to ABL1 ratio by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) on whole blood or bone marrow of diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients expressing b2a2, b3a2 or e1a2 fusion transcripts. The test is intended as an aid in the assessment of complete cytogenetic response (CCyR), major molecular response (MMR), minimal residual disease and relapse in CML patients. 

The BCR-ABL1 fusion gene arises from a specific chromosome translocation, known as the Philadelphia chromosome or t (9:22). The resulting BCR/ABL1 fusion transcripts are present in approximately 95% of CML. If present, the expression level of the fusion transcript or its ratio to a reference transcript may be used to monitor disease progress. Monitoring the level of BCR/ABL1 may be helpful for both prognosis and management of Gleevec®, Tasigna®, Sutent® and Sprycell® kinase therapies in patients with leukemia disease.

To read the press release and about the firms go to:    

Asuragen and Life Technologies have plans to pursue future regulatory clearance for a BCR/ABL1 Quant test in the United States. 

See Also: Illumina (ILMN), Sequenom (SQNM), Clinical Data (CLDA), Compugen (CGEN) More...

Sequenom (SQNM): Looking for facts.

  Tuesday, March 23, 2010

After all we wrote about Sequenom, it looks as if we are somehow destined to further tackle this firm. Sequenom’s story is still unfolding. What happened to this firm’s stock this month reflects a general reality that goes beyond Sequenom, on Wall Street and off Wall Street. When some influential leaders decide to become misleaders, sincere observers and followers must develop protective strategies that help them accept or reject what the influential try to feed them. In the stock market, negative speculators have the advantage of possessing a superior weapon called fear, which positive analysts do not really have. Under some circumstances, by definition, negative becomes the synonym of fear. When people fall to fear, they cannot wait for rational explanations of negative speculation. They believe they have no time to lose in resorting to common sense. They feel compelled to escape from the source of their fears. In the stock market, this translates into selling the stock that somebody labeled as bad.

Assessment of public firms by positive and negative analysts is the kinetic energy behind the millions of shares traded daily, which makes the stock market so interesting and attractive. The war between the two opposing groups is excellent for traders who know how to synchronize their buying and selling with optimistic and pessimistic articles. Serious investors, though, those who really care about investing in promising firms, must have a plan to protect themselves from developing unfounded fear or baseless euphoria. The plan is simple. Look for facts that support the claims.

In the past few weeks, investors in SQNM got lost between the positive and negative analysts. The stock was around $5 when some analysts upgraded it, with one putting $16 as his SQNM target price. Investors rushed to buy SQNM. As the stock crossed $8 with very strong momentum, suddenly, negative articles demeaning the stock emerged. We were not convinced. The only fact they cited was the firm’s financials, which had nothing to do with our positive feeling towards the stock. As we said in our previous article, what motivated us to love Sequenom in the first place was our belief that the firm’s promises could generate billions of dollars for its shareholders. These promises are supported by the firm’s successful marketing of three tests; two of them relate to Sequenom’s non-invasive nuclear prenatal program. Moreover, one of Sequenom’s tests has enabled the distinction between maternal and fetal DNA for both male and female fetuses, which led us to believe that there is sufficient validation of the firm’s technologies behind the non-invasive prenatal test program.

After enormous efforts to cause a sell-off of SQNM through incessant negative campaigns of fear, the fear finally supervened. Helped by preprogrammed selling the stock lost around one third of its value. Today, we heard that Lazard Capital Markets analyst Dr. Sean Lavin upgraded his outlook to "Buy" from "Hold" with a $13 price target, citing the potential for the company to create a test for Down syndrome. The stock rebounded fiercely through a different kind of fear this time, i.e. losing a huge investment opportunity. Lavin said the company will likely create a test for Down syndrome with third-party data showing it to be more accurate than current screening. He said the nearly 30 percent drop in the stock value last week is an opportunity for investors. "We anticipate Sequenom finishing development of a Down (syndrome) test this year, running external trials in 2011, and launching a test in late 2011 or in 2012," he said in a note to investors. He said the company has risks, but its target markets are "too immense" and a successful test is too likely. In the U.S., the company could target a market worth more than $4 billion. With all that said, he added, an investment in the stock is "speculative and risky."

That’s what sincere analysts should say – to mention the risk and the reward. In Sequenom’s case, the reward is huge. The successful outcome of Sequenom’s tests will not stop at the two that have been launched and the expected successful outcome of the one for Down syndrome, but open the door to many tests, which would be big.

SEQUENOM (SQNM): Does Anyone Really Believe That Missing Analysts Expectations By Five Cents Should

  Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SEQUENOM (SQNM): Does Anyone Really Believe That Missing Analysts Expectations By Five Cents Should Cause a Sell-Off In A Fundamentally Sound Development-Stage Biotechnology Firm’s Shares?

To those who keep downgrading Sequenom we say, we would love to be your disciples on condition that you do not try to convince us that development-stage firms deserve to be downgraded and their stocks crushed because their quarterly reports show a loss of five cents more than analysts’ expectations. We will become your faithful followers if you tell us in straight sentences that the firm’s scientific fundamentals are dismal – its technologies are not working, its programs are not advancing and its future is bleak, which you certainly did not do yet.

We will do exactly what you recommend if you tell us something more convincing than the story of the five cents. Here is some help:

A few months ago, Sequenom has launched SensiGene™ Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Carrier Screening test.

- Do you believe the test has been launched?
- Do you believe the test is not working? If so, then explain why
- Will the test not sell? If so, why?

In Sequenom’s non-invasive nuclear prenatal program, the firm has launched SensiGene Fetal RHD Genotyping test, which was its first clinical laboratory test to be accomplished through its SEQureDx™ technology.

- Do you believe the test has been launched?
- If so, then do you believe the test is superfluous? If so, then could you please explain why do you think so?

In the same prenatal program, Sequenom has launched another test, the non-invasive SensiGene™ Fetal (XY) (Fetal Sex Determination) test, which is also powered by SEQureDx™ technology.

- Again we ask: Do you believe the firm has launched this test? Do you believe it is safe, accurate and highly specific and has the same accuracy reading the fetus sex early in pregnancy? If not, please explain.

- Do you believe that the test enabled the distinction between maternal and fetal DNA for both male and female fetuses? If so, then do you believe that the test validates the firm’s technologies behind the non-invasive prenatal test program?

Yes, we are ready to follow your negative recommendation about this biotech firm, but first, please tell us what you know and think about Sequenom’s MassARRAY® genotyping system? Do you like it? Do you believe that this system and other few similar systems are making a historical move into the clinical laboratory?

Did you know that by using Sequenom MassARRAY® genotyping, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and the University of Minnesota Cancer Center were able to find out that donors who have natural killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) haplotypes, would significantly improve treatment in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) who received hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) therapy. As a matter of fact, the AML patients who received T-replete hematopoietic cell transplantation therapy1 based on Sequenom MassARRAY® genotyping had significant survival benefit.

1. The complete results from the study are published in Blood (Volume 113, Number 3), the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

If you still believe that the five cent story that ate over 25% of SQNM’s price in two days based on your preaching is more important than the above story, then here is another story: Using an assay exclusively licensed from Sequenom, researchers published a study by the University of Michigan, which demonstrates that around 15% of women determined to be negative human papillomavirus (HPV) in the cervix with the standard HPV DNA test may actually be infected with the virus. Sequenom assay was able to detect the presence of high-risk HPV in 46.7% of women who tested negative by the commonly used Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2) test.


You know what? Those who continue to believe that the missed five cents in the quarterly results of a firm that is still building its programs cannot be but irrational. You know how we know? Because the missed five cents are spent on the firm’s programs. Development-stage firms have to spend on building their programs before they cash in on them. By the way, the aforementioned test is another example of how the genomic knowledge is entering the clinic through new advanced DNA sequencers. In the meantime, it further validates Sequenom’s technology.

Sequenom is in the process of researching and evaluating a potential molecular diagnostic for the assessment of risk in developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

With regard to the T21 (Down syndrome) test, Sequenom said it is committed to the development of the noninvasive T21 test.

Prohost Word: Until the bearish on Sequenom convince us that they are not playing a game, and their concerns about Sequenom’s science, technology and products are real, we continue to believe that the future of medicine and agriculture is now in the hands of the genomic group. Sequenom is, indeed, a member of this group with advanced standing. The genomic firms’ technologies, tools and discoveries are the engines of the revolution in medicine and in the discovery and development of breakthrough drugs. (Read the article entitled Genomics in Prohost Newsletter for subscribers only.)



  Tuesday, March 02, 2010

On September 22, Prohost wrote:  More...

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