Sequenom Shares Tank After Executives Ousted Over Data Mishandling

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believes it has a valid approach to the detection of Down Syndrome, by doing genetic analysis of maternal blood. The company hopes to maintain what Hixson called an “important collaboration” with Oxford University researcher Dennis Lo, who provided an important license to intellectual property for the prenatal test that Sequenom has been seeking to commercialize.

Sequenom is still seeking to further develop the technology for spotting diagnostic clues in maternal blood for Down Syndrome, Hixson says, although he didn’t say what the next steps of development will be, or when Sequenom might be able to bring it to the market.

Interestingly, the company investigation didn’t find any problems with data handling protocol for another diagnostic test the company is commercializing for screening of cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease. Data to support that test have been validated by third-party collaborators outside the company, and were handled by a different unit of Sequenom than the one that mishandled the Down Syndrome test, Hixson said.

Hixson said he doesn’t intend to be the permanent CEO of Sequenom, pointing out that he’s 71 years old. He did say that the company hasn’t hired an executive search firm to fill some of the vacancies created, and that he’ll stay in the top job as long as he’s needed.

Hixson and Lindsay are currently in the midst of strategic planning for the coming year, so it’s too early for them to say how the company will adjust its priorities, and its financial forecasts. Hixson went out of his way in prepared remarks to thank the employees of Sequenom for being “extremely professional” and cooperating with the investigation over the past five months.

“We are determined to emerge from this experience stronger,” Hixson said.

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