Continuing a busy year, Applied Biosystems Group (AB; Foster City, California) entered a deal to buy out Agencourt Personal Genomics (APG; Beverly, Massachusetts) for about $120 million in cash, gaining high-throughput analysis of DNA and RNA to supplement the existing platform.

Specifically, APG – incorporated in 2005 as a separate entity owned by Agencourt Bioscience (also Beverly) – brings its "massively parallel fluorescence sequencing by stepwise ligation technology," which is applicable to de novo genome sequencing, medical sequencing, high-throughput gene expression and genotyping.

"It's complementary to the systems we sell now, that are the gold standard for DNA sequencing," said Peter Dworkin, who handles investor relations and corporate communications for AB.

Part of Applera, AB sells various instrument-based systems, plus software and services to life sciences firms.

The deal, expected to close in the third quarter, likely will be dilutive for AB in fiscal 2007 (about 6 cents per share) and 2008, primarily due to spending on research and development, commercialization activities and acquisition related amortization.

Details about the impact of the buyout are pending a valuation analysis to nail down the exact purchase price.

APG's approach combines single tube micro-bead sample preparation with high throughput multi-color fluorescence imaging. The sequencing chemistry uses ligation probes, which are said to provide high quality data compared to polymerase-based methods, along with high accuracy without homo-polymer sequencing errors that can occur with other modes of next-generation sequencing.

What's more, the APG system can use "paired-end" reads, which are helpful in pathogen sequencing and whole genome sequencing. The system generates faster base pair reads, with improvements to be made.

"They have a limited number of prototype systems" already up and working, Dworkin said, including one in APG's lab that runs collaborators' samples. "They've been sequencing bacteria, but if you do an extrapolation, we believe the system would deliver on the [often-cited goal of mapping] the full human genome for $100,000," though that wouldn't be the commercial use, he added.

Instead, the system would be deployed for medical sequencing, or re-sequencing, of genes and regulatory regions, looking for single nucleotide polymorphisms "on a very large scale," he said.

"One of the reasons we chose this technology from among the 40 or so that were out there, is that it's very commercializable," Dworkin said. "There are multiple applications we think it can support."

Assuming the buyout goes as planned, AB will start placing systems with early access customers next year.

In March, the firm completed its $35 million acquisition of the research products division of Ambion (Austin, Texas), which provides RNA analysis tools. The firm will stay in Austin. That news followed word in January that AB had entered an exclusive collaboration agreement with Hitachi High-Technologies, an affiliate of Hitachi (Tokyo), to develop and commercialize capillary electrophoresis-based DNA analysis methods. The deal amends an existing relationship that began in 1997.

In other dealmaking news: Hologic (Bedford, Massachusetts) and Suros Surgical Systems (Indianapolis) reported receiving a request for additional information from the FTC relating to Hologic's pending acquisition of Suros.

They said the request will extend the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) waiting period for the merger until 30 days following the FTC's receipt of the requested information, unless the waiting period is earlier terminated. The acquisition also still remains subject to approval by Suros Surgical stockholders.

The deal, first reported in April, consists of Hologic making a payment of $132 million in cash and an additional $108 million payable, at the election of Hologic, in cash, shares of Hologic common stock or a combination thereof.

Separately, Hologic reported that it has received notification that the U.S. Department of Justice and the FTC have granted early termination of the HSR Act waiting period relating to its pending acquisition of R2 Technology (Sunnyvale, California), a developer computer-aided detection. The purchase of R2 in a $220 million stock deal was unveiled in April.

This acquisition remains subject to the completion of a fairness hearing before the Commissioner of the California Department of Corporations and customary closing conditions, including R2 stockholder approval.

Hologic's core units are focused on osteoporosis assessment, mammography and breast biopsy, and mini C-arm and extremity MRI imaging for orthopedic applications.

Suros manufactures minimally invasive methods of tissue excision and biopsy within multiple surgical specialties. It has developed the ATEC system, providing women in a high-risk population the opportunity for early diagnosis of breast disease or cancer without going to surgery.

R2 develops computer-aided detection for the early detection of breast cancer, actionable lung nodules and other lung abnormalities.

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