Icon and Covance bet on diagnostics with a pair of cancer deals

CROs Icon ($ICLR) and Covance signed a pair of separate partnerships in the world of cancer diagnostics, each betting that new technologies in oncology testing will increase global demand.

Icon inked a deal to lend its weight in lab services to Cancer Genetics ($CGIX), a New Jersey outfit that offers DNA-based diagnostics. Under the agreement, Icon will integrate Cancer Genetics' lab tests into its oncology services, which span the clinical development process. The plan, according to Icon, is to capitalize on each company's strengths, using the CRO's global reach to bring Cancer Genetics' technology to a broader audience.

Covance, now a division of LabCorp ($LH), is making a similar wager through its partnership with Epic Sciences. With the deal, Covance will port Epic Sciences' circulating tumor cell technology to Asia, using the company's cancer tests in oncology trials around the continent. Covance will process patient samples at its labs in Singapore and ship them back to Epic's headquarters in San Diego for processing. The agreement, designed to expand Epic's global footprint, follows an earlier partnership between the two companies covering Europe.

Each deal underscores the burgeoning importance of new cancer diagnostics in the clinical development process, as the rise of increasingly sophisticated treatments demands novel biomarkers and assays to find the right patient populations.

The market for cancer tests is slated to reach $169 billion around the world by 2020, according to Cancer Genetics, making it all the more vital for diagnostics outfits to establish a global presence.

- read the Icon announcement
- here's the Covance release