Mad Cow News Boosts Biotechs - TheStreet

Updated from 12:10 p.m. EST

Investors were mad for shares of

Bio-Rad Laboratories

(BIO) - Get Report

Wednesday after the first documented case of mad cow disease in the U.S. bolstered prospects for the company's diagnostic test.

Bio-Rad closed up $10.07, or 20.2%, at $59.85. The stock had traded as high as $65, a 52-week high.

The company has been selling its mad cow diagnostic test in Europe for three years, with sales there and in Japan totaling about $100 million, or 10% of revenue. The discovery of a single cow with mad cow disease in Washington state Tuesday has increased the likelihood that domestic cattle herds will be more rigorously tested for the disease, which could significantly boost Bio-Rad sales and profits.

Bio-Rad would first need to get its mad cow test approved for use in the U.S. It's not clear yet if the company has filed for approval, or when the test would be sold here. The Bio-Rad test detects the presence of mad cow disease in slaughtered animals only.

So far, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is calling the single case of mad cow disease a solitary incident. There has been no word from the agriculture department or the Food and Drug Administration over whether increased testing for the disease will be mandated or recommended.

Orchid BioSciences


was also being pegged as a mad-cow play Wednesday because of its work in developing more advanced tests for the disease. The stock rose 14 cents, or 11.2%, to $1.37.

V.I. Technologies


is developing an experimental human blood-cleaning system; its stock rose 45.4%, or 38 cents, to $1.22.

It should be noted that these stocks also spiked back in May when a single case of mad cow disease was discovered in Canada; and V.I. Technologies, in particular, has run into significant problems and delays with the development of its product.


Abbott Laboratories

(ABT) - Get Report

said Wednesday that it had asked the Department of Agriculture in October to approve its test for mad cow disease,


reported. The company currently sells the test in 12 countries, according to the report.