A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Gen-Probe (San Diego) reported that the company does not intend to increase the value of its conditional tender offer to acquire Innogenetics (Ghent, Belgium), a molecular diagnostics company, in the wake of a higher offer by a rival suitor.

Its rival in the bidding war, drugmaker Solvay (Brussels, Belgium), increased its bid for to €6.50 ($10.22) a share in cash.

"We believe the disciplined analytical process we used to value Innogenetics resulted in a full and fair offer, and a higher bid therefore does not make financial sense for us," said Hank Nordhoff, Gen-Probe CEO/chairman. "Our existing clinical diagnostics and blood screening businesses remain healthy year-to-date, and we continue to focus on growing them in the United States and internationally."

Gen-Probe launched a bid for Innogenetics a month ago, offering €6.10 a share to make itself the world's largest standalone molecular diagnosis company.

Solvay had originally offered €5.75 a share in April.

Gen-Probe said on Wednesday that it did not intend to increase its offer.

Solvay said the transaction value was €200.7 million for Innogenetics' shares, but it would also be buying warrants and convertible bonds.

Solvay's takeover offer was conditional on it acquiring 75% of Innogenetics and on its target not recording a loss exceeding €10 million. It had already obtained regulatory clearance.

It added that reference shareholders with 18.48% of the shares remained committed to selling their stakes to Solvay.

Solvay said it expects to close the deal in the second half of 2008.

Gen-Probe is a maker of nucleic acid tests (NATs) that are used primarily to diagnose human diseases and screen donated human blood.

In other dealmaking news:

• TheraGenetics (London), a personalized medicine diagnostics company that is developing and commercializing a portfolio of pharmacogenetic diagnostic tests to guide and improve the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) disorders, said it has completed an agreement with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH; Toronto) to license intellectual property related to methods and kits for determining the susceptibility of a patient to certain side-effects of anti-depressants.

TheraGenetics said its strategic expansion into the area of depression underscores the company's commitment to licensing new technologies to build a foundation for future diagnostic tests for the most common CNS conditions.

"Since our inception in April 2006, we have made tremendous progress in our efforts to link genes to specific CNS disorders and use this information to predict patient response to treatment as well as drug side effects," said Richard Kivel, CEO of TheraGenetics. "The intellectual property we licensed from CAMH further augments our capabilities to innovate pharmacogenetic diagnostics tests in a broad range of disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease and ADHD."

• Luminex (Austin, Texas) and ViroNovative (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) reported that the companies have signed a licensing agreement that gives Luminex worldwide rights to use ViroNovative's human metapneumovirus (hMPV) intellectual property in the xTAG Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP).

Rights to ViroNovative's hMPV intellectual property will be extended to Luminex's distributors and end-user customers around the world.

"Having this license as part of our xTAG RVP assay is important to us as it allows our customers to use this cutting-edge test without the need to individually secure rights to this intellectual property," said Jeremy Bridge-Cook, vice president of Luminex Molecular Diagnostics.

Luminex's xTAG RVP received FDA 510(k) clearance on Jan. 3. The test was cleared for the detection and identification of 12 viruses and viral subtypes that are together responsible for more than 85% of respiratory viral infections. xTAG RVP is the first multiplexed nucleic acid test for respiratory viruses cleared for in vitro diagnostic use by the FDA and is the first test cleared by FDA for the detection of hMPV.

Luminex makes biological testing technologies with applications throughout the diagnostic and life sciences industries.

• Agendia BV (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) said it has agreed to give Ferrer inCode (Barcelona, Spain) exclusive rights to sell two of its signature cancer diagnostics services: MammaPrint, a prognostic test that uses a 70-gene signature to indicate risk of breast cancer tumor recurrence, and CupPrint, a gene expression profiling service designed to identify the primary tumor site in Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUP).

Ferrer has gained rights to sell the tests in Germany, France, Italy and Portugal, in addition to a current agreement signed in 2007 covering Spain. The companies said they also discussing the possibility of future cooperation and expansion into other parts of the world.

Ferrer inCode is the biotech subsidiary of Grupo Ferrer Internacional, working in the field of personalized medicine as a provider of diagnostic orientation, prognosis and prediction services based on genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics.

Agendia develops gene expression analysis-based diagnostics and has three products on the market. It focuses on diagnostic tests using tumor gene expression profiling.

The DNA Repair Company (DNAR; Boston), an emerging company focused on personalized approaches to cancer treatment, said it has licensed the exclusive rights in North America for the use of a diagnostic test that strongly predicts how women with breast cancer will respond to a common form of chemotherapy. The rights to the test were acquired from Helsinki University Central Hospital (Finland) through Licentia.

The discovery, published in this month's edition of Nature Genetics, marks an important step toward the development of the first tests capable of identifying the breast cancer patients who should be given an alternative to standard anthracycline-containing chemotherapy regimens, DNAR said. Heli Nevanlinna, MD, at Helsinki University and Jiri Bartek, MD, at the Danish Center Society (Copenhagen) led the research teams reporting the discovery. The test has the promise of guiding oncologists in critical treatment choices, the company said. DNAR said it would use the genetic variant of the NQO1 enzyme — called NQO1*2 — to create new diagnostic tests for personalized medicine applications and patient care.