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In a bid to strengthen its diagnostics portfolio, Roche (RHHBY - Analyst Report) announced that it will acquire privately held Genia Technologies for $125 million in cash. Roche will also make milestone payments of $225 million upon achievement.

Using nanopore technology, Genia is currently developing a single-molecule, semiconductor based, DNA sequencing platform.

Once developed, the technology is expected to reduce the price of sequencing along with increasing speed and sensitivity.

Apart from providing therapeutic products and services for diverse medical needs, Roche also focuses on innovative diagnostic solutions for the early detection and treatment of diseases. We are impressed by Roche’s efforts to strengthen its Diagnostic division.

Roche specializes in oncology drugs. We are encouraged by the recent bout of news on pipeline candidates. Roche recently announced positive results from a phase I study on oncology candidate, anti-PDL1 (MPDL3280A).

The results from the study showed that immunotherapy candidate MPDL3280A was effective in shrinking tumors by 43% in treatment experienced patients suffering from metastatic urothelial bladder cancer. These patients had tumors that were characterised as PD-L1 (Programed Death Ligand-1) positive by a test being developed by Roche.

We note that the candidate was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Moreover, Roche also presented encouraging interim new data from a phase Ib trial on another oncology candidate, BCL-2 inhibitor GDC-0199/ABT-199, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The candidate is being developed in collaboration with AbbVie (ABBV - Analyst Report).

The results from the study showed that GDC-0199/ABT-199 in combination with MabThera/Rituxan achieved either a complete response or complete response with incomplete blood count recovery (CR/CRi) rate of 36% in patients suffering from relapsed/refractory (R/R) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Roche also presented promising initial results from the phase II study, ROMULUS, on polatuzumab vedotin at the ASCO. The study evaluated the safety and preliminary efficacy of anti-CD79b ADC (polutuzumab vedotin) compared with that of anti-CD22 ADC (pinatuzumab vedotin), both in combination with MabThera. The results from the study showed that both molecules were generally well-tolerated in patients suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the same industry include Allergan (AGN - Analyst Report) and Gilead Sciences (GILD - Analyst Report). Both stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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