A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Natus Medical (San Carlos, California) reported that it has agreed to acquire privately held NeuroCom International (Clackamas, Oregon), which develops computerized systems for the assessment and rehabilitation of balance and mobility disorders, for a cash price of $18 million.

Natus said the acquisition, which it expects to complete in early October, adds to its growth opportunities by broadening its product offerings in the company's neurology business.

"This acquisition expands our neurology footprint into the growing balance and mobility assessment market," said Jim Hawkins, president/CEO of Natus. "We believe this acquisition affirms our position as the market leader in neurology and brings Natus one step closer to achieving our stated goal of growing revenue to a $250 million annual run-rate by the end of 2008," he added.

NeuroCom reported revenue of $11.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, and is expected to have cash of at least $3.4 million as of the closing.

Natus believes the acquisition will be immediately accretive to earnings, excluding associated one-time charges.

Natus is a provider of healthcare products used for the screening, detection, treatment, monitoring and tracking of common medical ailments such as hearing impairment, neurological dysfunction, epilepsy, sleep disorders and newborn care.

In other dealmaking activity:

• Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California), a provider of technologies for research, production and diagnostics, reported agreements with New England Biolabs (Ipswich, Massachusetts), Qiagen (Venlo, the Netherlands), and Kirkegaard & Perry Laboratories (Gaithersburg, Maryland) to license Invitrogen technology covering the random prime amplification of nucleic acids. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The technology covered involves methods and kits for amplifying nucleic acids, used in several laboratory techniques such as random primed labeling reactions, first-strand cDNA synthesis and whole genome amplification.

Amy Butler, VP of gene expression profiling for Invitrogen, said, "By making this technology broadly available to other companies through licensing, we can extend the benefit to a greater number of researchers and advance this rapidly growing field of research."

• NeuroFocus (Berkeley, California), a developer of what it terms as "neuromarketing," said it has acquired the "core patent" underlying the use of neuroimaging as a marketing tool from its inventors, Dr. Gerald Zaltman and Dr. Stephen Kosslyn. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

NeuroFlocus said that U. S. patent No. 6,099,319 is central to the application of neuroimaging for marketing, branding, and advertising testing. In addition, the acquisition confers legal rights regarding any past or future unlicensed use of the patent.

Dr. A.K. Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus, said, "This patent is the cornerstone of the entire field of neuromarketing that applies fMRI [functional MRI] technology ... It will allow us to offer clients a whole new and exclusive dimension of knowledge and insight into what consumers notice, like and remember best about their products and their messages."

NeuroFocus says that its testing regimen includes applying high-density arrays of EEG sensors, which capture brainwave activity many as 128 different sectors of the brain at 2,000 times a second. This neurological data is complemented with eye movement tracking technology and peripheral measures of re-activity. The combination of extremely precise brainwave activity monitoring, combined with biometric information, provides what the company describes as a "deep dive into the consumer's mind."