Quest debuts dementia Dx test panel

Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) is rolling out a diagnostic test panel designed to identify dementia stemming from treatable causes. Indirectly, the company said the blood test may help lead to Alzheimer's diagnoses by ruling out other factors.

What's more, the new product could lead to a major revenue boost over time. Quest has been reorganizing and has long faced sluggish revenue and declining net income.

Quest's debut of the test reflects the benefits of a big M&A deal two years ago--the company's $740 million acquisition of Athena Diagnostics to boost its focus on neurological diagnostics. (Athena continues as an independent business unit with the combined company.) It also speaks to partnership opportunities that the deal created. Athena defined the panel's tests and report requirements, the company notes, and Quest focused on developing the broader panel offering at clinical labs where the specific tests are performed. Expect more tests rollouts stemming from their collaboration in the future.

The new dementia test panel is designed to evaluate a patient with cognitive impairment/dementia by testing for possible causes that can be treated. Those can include vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, anemia and diabetes, Quest notes. It's noteworthy that this appears to be the first test of its kind that screens specifically for those treatable causes, based on recommendations from the American Academy of Neurology, the American Geriatrics Association and the European Federation of Neurological Societies, as well as a special panel from the National Institutes of Health.

The thought is that the test can quickly identify treatable causes and then a primary care doctor can work on reversing dementia symptoms over time. But normal results can help narrow the focus to other causes such as Alzheimer's, itself a diagnostic focus for startup companies and larger diagnostics players alike.

- here's the release

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