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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) recently announced a strategic deal with Epizyme, Inc. for the development of a molecular companion diagnostic test for use with EPZ-5676.

EPZ-5676 is being developed by Epizyme for the treatment of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL-r).

Under this deal, Abbott Labs will use its fluorescence in situhybridization (FISH) technology to develop the test. It will help in identifying patients eligible for treatment with Epizyme’s EPZ-5676. Financial details of the deal were not provided.

In Feb 2013, Abbott Labs collaborated with Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ - Analyst Report) Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Pharmacyclics, Inc. (PCYC - Analyst Report) to use Abbott Labs’ proprietary FISH technology for developing a molecular companion diagnostic test that will help identify patients with a genetic subtype of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

The FISH-based test will be used for the identification of high-risk CLL patients who are more likely to respond to ibrutinib. Ibrutinib is being developed for several B-cell malignancies including chronic leukemia and lymphoma. Pharmacyclics expects to file a New Drug Application (NDA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of ibrutinib in patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) before the end of 2013.

We note that Abbott Labs separated its business into two publicly-traded companies on Jan 1, 2013 – one in diversified medical products and the other in research-based pharmaceuticals.

Abbott Labs is extremely diversified with attractive nutrition and diagnostics businesses. AbbottLabs carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, NuVasive, Inc. (NUVA - Snapshot Report) looks more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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