American Association for Clinical Chemistry
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March 2008 Clinical Laboratory News: Industry Profiles

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March 2008: Volume 34, Number 3

Roche Captures Ventana with $3.4 Billion Bid

After increasing its offer to $89.50 per share, Roche (Basel, Switzerland) finally won over Ventana’s (Tucson, Ariz.) board of directors and announced a definitive merger agreement approved by both companies’ boards. Ventana had spurned Roche’s initial bid of $75 per share, and had maintained opposition to the deal through repeated appeals by Roche over the last 6 months. “We believe that our offer provides significant value to Ventana’s shareholders and that this acquisition ideally complements Roche’s strengths,” said Roche CEO Franz Humer. “Our combined company will be uniquely positioned to further expand Ventana’s business globally.” Siemens (Munich, Germany) paid about twice as much for last year’s $7 billion purchase of Dade Behring (Deerfield, Ill.), while another big spender in the industry, Inverness Medical Innovations (Waltham, Mass.), last year paid only about half as much, $1.68 billion, for San Diego, Calif.-based Biosite.

CombiMatrix and Clarient Collaborate on Cancer Test

CombiMatrix (Mukilteo, Wash.) and Clarient (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) announced a strategic partnership to market HemeScan CLL, a genomic test for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that enables prognosis at the time of diagnosis. “The HemeScan test’s technology represents a more precise platform adding greater granularity to assist local pathologists and oncologists in the molecular assessment of this complex disease,” said Ken Bloom, MD, Clarient’s Chief Medical Officer. “The traditional cytogenetic test used currently does not reliably give us the information we need to take advantage of the therapeutic capabilities available today.” CombiMatrix developed the test and validated it in collaboration with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. The test kit assays all of the genomic loci for copy number aberrations currently measured by commercial multi-probe FISH kits. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ortho-Clinical Licenses Lung Cancer Test from 20/20 GeneSystems

Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics (Raritan, N.J.) announced an agreement to license a multi-marker blood test for lung cancer from 20/20 GeneSystems (Rockville, Md.). The test identifies panels of antibodies generated by the body’s immune system in response to very early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). “Currently, only 25 percent of non-small cell lung cancer is diagnosed at an early, curable stage. There is a compelling need for tools that lead to the detection of lung cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages,” said Jonathan Cohen, 20/20 CEO. “By partnering with world leaders like Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics our goal is to help establish the first accurate blood test for lung cancer that can detect the disease years earlier than the current gold standard.” The semi-exclusive deal allows 20/20 to enter into other licensing agreements with a limited number of third parties, as well as to market its own lung cancer detection test.

Genzyme Licenses PGx NSCLC Test

Genzyme (Cambridge, Mass.) announced an agreement with the Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa, Fla.) for exclusive diagnostic testing rights to the center’s discovery of two proteins that predict patient response to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment. Genzyme plans to develop and market a test that can be used to measure the expression level of two proteins, RRM1 and ERCC1, in NSCLC patients. “Our agreement with the renowned Moffitt Cancer Center will enable Genzyme to develop and market a diagnostic test designed to assist physicians in identifying the appropriate first-line therapy for their NSCLC patients,” said Bruce Horten, MD, medical director for Genzyme Genetics. “A personalized medicine approach to treatment such as this has the potential to help patients lead longer, healthier lives.” Under the agreement, Genzyme will pay Moffitt at certain milestones, as well as royalties on the sale of the test. For more on NSCLC testing, see CLN, February, 2008.