A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

In vitro diagnostics maker bioMérieux (Paris) reported that it has acquired privately held AviaraDx (San Diego), a diagnostics test maker, for $60 million.

"The acquisition of AviaraDx is a major milestone in bioMérieux's long-term growth strategy. Their molecular technology in tumor tissue and broad clinical capabilities will help us achieve Dr. Christophe Mérieux's vision of providing patients with personalized, predictive medicine," said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of bioMérieux.

bioMérieux acquired full ownership of AviaraDx and it plans to keep AviaraDx as an independent legal entity called bioTheranostics. Richard Ding, bioMérieux's corporate VP of business development and theranostics, has been named CEO of bioTheranostics.

AviaraDx's diagnostic tests are used in the molecular classification of cancers and to assist oncologists in making critical therapeutic decisions. The company has built a molecular R&D lab and a small sales and marketing team, as well as a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments- (CLIA) certified service lab.

bioMerieux's strategy focuses on infectious diseases and high medical-value diagnostic tests, and for the latter, theranostics and oncology are critical elements. With AviaraDx, bioMérieux gains validated cancer biomarkers as well as capabilities in gene expression profiling in tissues for applications in oncology.

AviaraDx has two products on the market: Aviara CancerTYPE ID provides improved cancer classification, especially for patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer where the origin is uncertain or unknown. Aviara Breast Cancer Index offers a combined assessment of two Aviara markers (H/I and MGI) for risk prognosis and treatment response prediction for chemo and hormonal therapy.

bioMérieux is thus in a position to offer a wide range of high-value tools for cancer management, which help oncologists make relevant clinical decisions in their daily practice: the widely installed VIDAS immunoassay platform and molecular diagnostics with the NucliSENS range and AviaraDx technologies.

Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California) and Applied Biosystems (AB; Norwalk, Connecticut) reported that the registration statement, including a joint proxy statement/prospectus, for their proposed merger, valued at $6.7 billion, has become effective.

The companies expect to commence mailing the joint proxy statement/prospectus and all relevant materials to shareholders this week.

A special meeting of the shareholders of Invitrogen, to consider the proposed acquisition of AB, will be held on Oct. 16, 2008.

Invitrogen employs about 4,700 scientists and other professionals and had revenues of about $1.3 billion in 2007.

In other dealmaking news: Arius Research (Toronto) reported that RiskMetrics ISS Canada (Toronto), an independent proxy firm, is recommending that Arius shareholders and warrant holders vote in favor of the proposed plan of arrangement whereby Roche (Basel, Switzerland), will acquire Arius' outstanding shares and warrants.

"[I]n our opinion, [this recommendation] provides significant independent validation that the transaction represents the best option for maximizing shareholder value," said David Young, president/CEO of Arius.

Arius shareholders and warrant holders will vote on the meeting at a Sept. 16 meeting in Toronto.

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