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Cancer Diagnostics--Moving Forward, Slowly

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

After years of confusion and stagnation, the field of cancer biomarker diagnostics seems to be progressing, even as huge challenges remain. Investors are alert but cautious. The sheer volume of funding and attention devoted to proteomics and genomics, along with advances in research tools, have led to new approaches to looking for and developing assays. But with exception of Cytyc Corp., not a lot of successful cancer-oriented diagnostic role models exist for start-ups.

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The Golden Age in Cancer Medtech Investing

Short of investing in the kinds of products that must demonstrate five-year survival rates, the field of cancer offers many near term investment opportunities, and large markets to support them. As noted in US Disease Incidence and Prevalence, a report recently published by the Medtech Insight division of FDC-Windhover, like many diseases, the incidence of cancer increases with age. More than 10.8 million people in the US have a history of cancer; and in 2008, at least 1.4 million more people will be diagnosed. According to the Medtech Insight report, breast cancer has the highest prevalence rate, followed by prostate and colorectal cancers.

Medical Device and In Vitro Diagnostics Deal Statistics Quarterly, Q1 2008

The first quarter of 2008 saw a dearth in financings for both the medical device and in vitro diagnostics segments. In the former, volume fell short of the billion dollar mark while the latter failed to reach the success the previous quarter had witnessed, despite completing an equal number of transactions. M&A in medical devices didn't look any more promising, bringing in $1.6 billion, a huge slide from the impressive $10 billion total of 2007's fourth quarter. However, there was one bright spot: acquisitions within in vitro diagnostics/research reagents substantially increased to $3.1 billion from the $370 million spent in the previous three months, led by Inverness Medical Innovations' $1.1 billion takeover of Matria Healthcare Inc. Also noteworthy: oncology diagnostics alliances grew slowly and steadily thanks to increasing attention from larger companies.

Medical Device and In Vitro Diagnostics Deal Statistics Quarterly, Q1 2008

The first quarter of 2008 saw a dearth in financings for both the medical device and in vitro diagnostics segments. In the former, volume fell short of the billion dollar mark while the latter failed to reach the success the previous quarter had witnessed, despite completing an equal number of transactions. M&A in medical devices didn't look any more promising, bringing in $1.6 billion, a huge slide from the impressive $10 billion total of 2007's fourth quarter. However, there was one bright spot: acquisitions within in vitro diagnostics/research reagents substantially increased to $3.1 billion from the $370 million spent in the previous three months, led by Inverness Medical Innovations' $1.1 billion takeover of Matria Healthcare Inc. Also noteworthy: oncology diagnostics alliances grew slowly and steadily thanks to increasing attention from larger companies.

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