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Agilent's Unit Dako Expands the Use of PD-L1 Test in Europe

Dako, a subsidiary of Agilent Technologies A, recently announced the expanded use of the diagnostic assay, PD-L1 IHC 28-8 pharmDx, in Europe.

Earlier, this test helped only in assessing the survival benefit for non-squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (“NSCLC”) in Europe. Now, it will also include patients with melanoma cancer in the continent.

PD-L1 IHC 28-8 pharmDx has been known for identifying PD-L1 expression levels on the surface of NSCLC tumor cells. But now physicians can also determine PD-L1 expression for melanoma patients using this test and offer valuable information on their survival benefit.

The diagnostic technique was developed in collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the maker of OPDIVO. Reportedly, OPDIVO (nivolumab) therapy demonstrates higher overall chances of survival than chemotherapy in such patients.

Currently, the healthcare sector is witnessing significant growth. Also,specialized tests for lung cancer that provide valuable information are gaining popularity.

Agilent had acquired Dako for $2.2 billion (on a debt-free basis) in 2012. The Danish cancer diagnostics company provides antibodies, scientific instruments and software mainly to cancer-related diagnostic labs and collaborates with drug companies to develop methods for identifying patients likely to benefit from certain therapies.

The company regularly introduces tests and partners with major pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Co. LLY and Pfizer Inc. PFE to develop technologies to cure cancer. The collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb will further help Agilent to develop tests in the field of immuno-oncology.

Thus, these collaborations should help the company to cash in on the fast-growing healthcare diagnostics segment.

Agilent's revenues in the first quarter of fiscal 2016 were up 0.7% year over year, supported by continued strength in the diagnostics, pharma, environmental and forensics markets, and across all geographical regions. Also, earnings per share of 46 cents beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents and came above management’s own guidance.

The company is slated to report second-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 16.

Currently, Agilent has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another stock well placed right now is Fabrinet FN, carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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