American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
October 2008 Clinical Laboratory News: Industry Profiles

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October 2008: Volume 34, Number 10

 Nanogen Combines With Elitech Group

Nanogen announced a $97.7 million-deal to merge with the private Paris-based diagnostic company The Elitech Group. The companies structured the deal as a tax-free, stock-for-stock exchange, called a reverse acquisition, whereby Nanogen stock was traded for all Elitech capital stock. The transatlantic company will be listed on NASDAQ, but a new company name has yet to be determined. “The combination with Elitech will accelerate the transition of Nanogen into a global, profitable diagnostics company with the critical mass needed to bring our leading molecular and point-of-care technologies to customers worldwide,” said Howard Birndorf, chairman and CEO of Nanogen. Elitech, the largest independent distributor of in vitro diagnostics in France, acquired Wescore (Logan, Utah) and Vital Scientific (Dieren, the Netherlands) in 2007. Earlier this year, Nanogen was awarded a $10.4 million contract to develop a new multi-analyte flu test for the CDC.

Beckman Gets Rights for Preeclampsia Tests

Beckman Coulter has signed an agreement to buy out its royalty obligation to Nephromics, LLC, gaining a license for tests related to the detection, monitoring, and risk assessment of preeclampsia in pregnant women. As part of the deal, Beckman also acquired rights to the worldwide diagnostic assets of Nephromics. “Currently, there are no specific in vitro diagnostic tests for preeclampsia, even though the disease threatens the lives of thousands of women and their babies and places a significant burden on healthcare systems worldwide,” said Mike Whelan, vice president of Beckman Coulter’s High Sensitivity Testing business group. “We expect that, once we complete our development program, these tests will help improve the outcomes of at-risk pregnancies.” The new tests, already in clinical trials, are being developed for use on Beckman’s UniCel DxI and Access immunoassay systems, as well as UniCel DxCi chemistry-immunoassay work cells. Beckman said it plans to begin offering the tests by the end of 2009.

Roche and Response Biomedical Partner on POCT

Roche Diagnostics and Response Biomedical announced a collaboration that gives Roche exclusive rights to market the first line of cardiovascular tests for Response Biomedical’s new RAMP 200 POC platform. The RAMP (Rapid Analyte Measurement Platform) cardiovascular line includes troponin-I, CK-MB, myoglobin, and NT-proBNP. “Having the test menu at the patient’s bedside may provide physicians with the improved ‘vein-to-brain’ time that is often critical when treating patients with potentially life-threatening cardiovascular conditions,” said Rodney Cotton, Senior VP of Roche Diagnostics point-of-care division. “The RAMP 200 will allow physicians to treat patients faster because it can help reduce the amount of time from when a patient presents with symptoms to when treatment begins.” All of the RAMP cardiac tests correlate to the same tests on large analyzers in the lab, such as Roche’s cobas 6000 series. Expected to be launched in the first quarter of next year, the system uses whole blood and can perform 18–36 tests per hour, with results in about 15 minutes. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

 Thermo Fisher Targets New Cancer Biomarkers

A collaboration between Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Biomarker Research Initiatives in Mass Spectrometry Center (BRIMS) and the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto will look at unexplored areas for cancer biomarkers. Eleftherios Diamandis, MD, PhD, will lead the team in Toronto using Thermo Fisher’s mass spectrometers to search for biomarker proteins in the secreted fluids of cancer cell lines with an eye toward developing new blood tests for cancer. “Our talented team is focused on making advancements in biomarker testing by looking in the most logical place, cancer cell lines,” said Diamandis, biochemist-in-chief at University Health Network. “We expect to find important clues locked inside these proteins. The quest to validate biomarkers is complex and challenging, but also a critical frontier in science. ” After Diamandis’s team validates a cancer biomarker, they will send it to the BRIMS center for a second validation, maintaining what they call a cross-validation workflow. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.