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Dako, an Agilent Technologies (A - Analyst Report) subsidiary, has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the inclusion of Kadcyla in the labels of two of its companion diagnostics. Kadcyla is Genentech's new breast cancer medicine.

Kadcyla is a new medicine for patients suffering from HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. The assays from Dako are HercepTest and HER2 IQFISH pharmDx. These assays will help to identify cancer patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who may be eligible for Kadcyla treatment. This will speed up the detection of breast cancer, allowing doctors to start Kadcyla treatment as soon as possible.

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

Dako has collaborated with other pharmaceutical giants such as Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY - Analyst Report) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Analyst Report) for developing technologies in the field of companion diagnostics to detect cancer. Thus, with these collaborations and the FDA approval for its companion diagnostic assays, Agilent’s unit may help the ongoing research in companion diagnostics; thus improving the diagnostic process as a whole.

According to Global Industry Analysts, the worldwide market for companion diagnostics may reach $280.2 million by 2017, driven by the enhancement of a drug’s clinical usage, thus reducing the overall cost and risk involved in drug development and commercialization.

Currently, Agilent Technologies has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Another test equipment company, National Instruments Corp. (NATI - Snapshot Report), has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and is thus also worth considering.

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