A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

3M (St. Paul, Minnesota) reported acquiring Acolyte Biomedica (Salisbury, UK), a provider of an automated microbial detection platform that aids in the rapid detection, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Acolyte helps hospitals control high-risk infections through improved screening and targeted treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics and occurring most frequently in hospital patients who have weakened immune systems.

3M said that Acolyte brings it an infection prevention pipeline of rapid culture-based screening tests for microbes, such as MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) that simplify the diagnosis by automating traditional culture methodology, resulting in reliable confirmed "negatives" in hours rather than days. It said that the addition of Acolyte Biomedica enables expansion more quickly into the emerging market of infection prevention diagnostics, especially in Europe where Acolyte has commercialized product for MRSA.

"This acquisition builds on 3M's innovative research and development in the medical diagnostics area and is a natural extension of our core infection prevention business," said Chuck Kummeth, division VP, 3M Medical Division. "Our vision is to continue expanding our platform to include diagnostic solutions ranging from simple, culture-based approaches to more advanced molecular diagnostics that will help hospitals to improve the quality of patient care."

3M says that its infection prevention platform includes diagnostic testing, sterilization assurance, skin preparation, sterile field and surface, wound management and environmental cleaning.

Acolyte, formed in 2000, employs 13 specialist scientists and commercial staff. It has been funded by shareholders Porton Capital, Dstl/Ploughshare Innovations, Partnerships UK and Angle.

The company manufactures rapid microbiology products and has an exclusive global license to AK Rapid technology, granted from Dstl, for clinical and veterinary use. It has developed this detection technology into a series of commercial prototype products, which rapidly detect the presence of bacteria and determine their antibiotic susceptibility direct from clinical samples such as blood.

In January 2006, Acolyte launched a rapid culture-based MRSA test, BacLite Rapid, which can detect the presence or absence of MRSA direct from clinical samples in less than five hours, the company calling it the only rapid screening test which can discriminate between live and dead bacteria, enabling the determination of the risk of resistant bacteria spreading in a hospital.

In other dealmaking news:

  • Cepheid (Sunnyvale, California), a molecular diagnostics company, reported that it has acquired Sangtec Molecular Diagnostics (Bromma, Sweden) from Altana Pharma (Bad Homburg, Germany) for about $27 million in cash.

Sangtec develops PCR-based molecular diagnostics products. It has 59 employees and had revenues in 2006 of about $8 million.

"The acquisition of Sangtec immediately brings Cepheid three key strategic benefits," said Cepheid CEO John Bishop. "First, Sangtec currently has a relatively complete line of products for potential use in managing infections of immunocompromised patients. Second, Sangtec has a very strong R&D team experienced in developing real time PCR based products which will enable Cepheid to more expeditiously expand its clinical test product menu. Third, Sangtec has an accomplished manufacturing team noted for its ability to produce high quality products. This team will provide Cepheid with an established reagent manufacturing base in Europe."

Cepheid said it will integrate the Sangtec affigene family of Real-time PCR molecular diagnostic kits for the immuno-compromised market into its European and U.S. portfolio of in vitro diagnostic products. The expanded line will include affigene assay kits for cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, hepatitis B virus, varicella zoster virus, BK virus, and aspergillus.

Cepheid said the acquisition will be slightly dilutive to income for the first quarter following the acquisition, but slightly accretive for the balance of the year, with a neutral impact for the entire year of 2007.

Cepheid develops integrated systems for genetic analysis in the clinical, industrial and biothreat markets.

  • Critical Therapeutics (Lexington, Massachusetts) reported that Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California) has exercised an option to continue to license patent rights for the use of High Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) technology to develop an immunoassay for detection and diagnosis of inflammatory diseases. Beckman Coulter paid Critical Therapeutics a product development fee – the amount not disclosed — and has agreed to begin formal product development of an HMGB1 diagnostic.

In January 2005, Critical Therapeutics entered into an agreement with Beckman Coulter for the development of diagnostic products for measuring HMGB1. Critical Therapeutics will receive a milestone payment upon the achievement of the first sale of a licensed product and royalties on net sales of licensed products by Beckman Coulter.

Frank Thomas, president/CEO of Critical Therapeutics, said, "We believe that a test to detect and measure levels of HMGB1 in the bloodstream could play an important role in diagnosing acute diseases resulting in multi-organ failure, including sepsis and septic shock, as well as chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis."

The research being performed by Beckman Coulter relating to an HMGB1 diagnostic test is occurring concurrently with the company's collaboration with MedImmune (Gaithersburg, Maryland) to advance a human HMGB1 antibody candidate into clinical trials. Critical Therapeutics exclusively licensed its HMGB1 patent estate for the treatment and prevention of diseases to MedImmune in 2003.

The company develops products for respiratory, inflammatory and critical care diseases.

  • NanoInk (Skokie, Illinois), specializing in nanometer-scale manufacturing and applications for the life science and semiconductor industries, has exclusively licensed intellectual property from Arrowhead Research (Pasadena, California), developed through research at the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Collier at the California Institute of Technology.

"The dip pen nanolithography project was one of the first to be sponsored by Arrowhead, and we have worked with Dr. Collier and Caltech to patent the inventions generated under the agreement," said R. Bruce Stewart, chairman of Arrowhead.

"Our license from Arrowhead Research Corporation, coupled with several recently awarded patents, is helping to protect and strengthen NanoInk's intellectual property portfolio," said Dr. Cedric Loiret-Bernal, NanoInk's CEO.

Dip pen nanolithography involves deposition of nanoscale materials onto a substrate for applications in the life sciences and semiconductor industries.

Arrowhead commercializes technologies in the areas of life sciences, electronics, and energy. It has four subsidiaries commercializing nanotech products and applications.