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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) announced positive interim data from the RApid Diagnosis of Infections in the CriticAlly IlL (RADICAL) study. The RADICAL study analyzed samples from more than 180 critically ill patients with suspected severe infections and compared the results of Abbott's technology (IRIDICA) to the current standard of care.

The RADICAL study demonstrated that the testing platform – IRIDICA – produced results consistent with the current standard of care in just a few hours. We note that the diagnosis of serious infections as per methods currently in use takes several days.

After reviewing the interim data, physicians on a panel said that they would have prescribed a different course of treatment in more than 50% of the cases evaluated in the study. The interim results revealed that with IRIDICA physicians would be able to rule out the source of infection more confidently and quickly.

IRIDICA may be used to quickly identify microorganisms before lab cultures can detect similar results in critically ill patients with life threatening infections. IRIDICA is designed to produce results in approximately 8 hours versus days.

The RADICAL study will come to an end in late 2014 and IRIDICA will be available as a CE-marked in vitro diagnostic device in European countries within a year.

Our Take

Abbott Labs currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We note that Abbott Labs continues to invest in the development of next-generation instruments and other advanced technologies in its diagnostics business.

Diagnostics business sales increased 5.1% year over year (on an operational basis) to $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2014. Abbott is investing in the development of multiple new instrument platforms to improve its diagnostic segment. The IRIDICA platform has the potential to identify life-threatening infections much faster than current methods. The approval of this testing platform will boost the diagnostic segment of the company.

Investors looking for better-ranked stocks may consider companies like Allergan (AGN - Analyst Report), Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN - Analyst Report) and Shire (SHPG - Analyst Report). All three carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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