AspenBio Pharma seeks rebirth as Venaxis, with focus on Dx

What's in a name? For a diagnostics company struggling to make itself known in the life sciences world, the right name means everything.

So perhaps it is not unexpected that AspenBio Pharma ($APPY) has formally changed both its own name and the name of its blood-based appendicitis diagnostics test under development, with an eye toward launching the product in the near future both in Europe and the United States. Thanks to formal shareholder approval on Dec. 11, AspenBio Pharma is now called Venaxis. The company's diagnostic test, dubbed AppyScore on its website, has the new moniker APPY1.

Venaxis President and CEO Steve Lundy explains in a statement that the changes are all about rebranding with a greater focus on the company's core in vitro diagnostics business.

In 2012 the company narrowed its mission to in vitro diagnostics, and licensed out its animal health assets. And so, the point of view here appears to be one of timing. The company is close to obtaining its CE mark for APPY1 in Europe and will be launching a pivotal clinical study geared toward 510(k) clearance in the U.S. after struggling since at least 2009 with the U.S. regulatory process. A new name gives a clean slate and can create a fresh perception in the eyes of potential and future clients. Expect a launch of a fancy new logo and PR materials this January.

All of that represents progress, of course, but shareholder confidence in the company's stock isn't what it once was. The share price closed Dec. 12 at $2.72, up 30%, perhaps in reaction to the rebranding initiative. But it trades at a tiny fraction of heights reached just a few years ago. In the middle of its struggles, there were also issues with NASDAQ listing standards compliance, among other obstacles. Still, AspenBio/Venaxis regained NASDAQ listing compliance this year and also raised $3.7 million through a public offering.

- read the release

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