Verisante Technology, Inc. (VRS – $0.56) is a medical device company committed to commercializing innovative systems for the detection of cancer. The Verisante Aura is used for skin cancer detection and the Verisante Core for lung, colon and cervical cancer detection.
Skin cancer is currently diagnosed based on visual examination by a dermatologist or general practitioner, leading to unnecessary biopsies and high costs. Results from both a preliminary clinical study on 274 lesions, as well as a much larger follow-up study on 1,000 lesions, demonstrate that the Verisante Aura has significant diagnostic accuracy in distinguishing malignant from benign skin lesions. It offers the potential for reducing unnecessary biopsies by 50 to 100 percent.
Verisante has received approval to market the Aura in Canada, the 27 EU member states and Australia and is aiming to start production and commercialization of the device in the second half of 2012.
Although the Aura will face competition once it enters the market, it has competitive advantages (speed, versatility for all types of skin cancer, greater accuracy, smaller probe) over all of them.
Verisante also initiated the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for the Aura. An initial meeting with the FDA is scheduled for the second quarter of this year.
During a 26-patient pilot study the Core was able to detect precancerous lung lesions with a sensitivity of 96% and specificity of 91%, which is a life saving increase compared with the 60% average specificity today. These results indicate that the Core could set a new standard for the early detection of lung cancer.
Based on expected sales and earnings numbers we initiate coverage of Verisante Technologies with a buy recommendation and a price target of $2.60, which is more than 4 times today’s stock price.
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