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XMFHelical (< 20)

A Machine to Remake the Past?



September 05, 2007 – Comments (0)

My glib title is in reference to the recent announcement to that Celera Genomics..wait, sorry I forgot, scratch the Genomics part, ...will acquire Berkeley Heart Labs for $195M. 

Conference call here.

 It's not like the this is necessarily a bad deal, I like the arena that BKL operates in.  It is similar to that of former Biosite which was subject to a small bidding war with Beckman-Coulter and Inverness Medical. But this is not new tech.  To hear the conference call, they are essentially buying the sales force and hopefully market access for later products (we'll see).  I also assume they were seeing pressure to do something with that massive cash hoard from the old Human Genome sequencing days (hey, returning it to shareholders would have been a nice idea).

In my mind, Celera is continuing to be dyslexic. Remember, at first they were a database company, but wanted to really be a drug development company.  So they tried that, but....decided that as a drug development company (only 1 IND as I recall), they really wanted to be a medical diagnostics company.  Heck a book was even written (yup, I read it) on how Celera was going to lead the way in clinical PCR for disease diagnostics - the afore alluded to, 'A Machine to Make the Future' by Paul Rabinow.

I really like clinical PCR applications, but prefer how Cepheid is approaching it via the mutant infectious disease market with a near bedside diagnostic strategy (my runaway contest pick on the biotechnology board).  Celera's approach was never all to clear to me (huge cash hordes can often create a focus problem IMO).

So now CRA is an old style clinical diagnostic company, still looking to bring PCR applications forward presumably primarily via the Abbott collaborations (yup, that same Abbott who tried recently to sell off it's diagnostic unit - other than diabetes - to GE Healthcare). 

I really, really want to be enthusiastic about this company, I like the science and the market space, and the approach, but I just can't seem to muster any.


P.S. - I have some history with CRA which I have commented on.  See the biotech board here and here if interested. 

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