Diagnostics & Imaging Week s

About five months after withdrawing its proposed $70 million initial public offering, Predix Pharmaceuticals Holdings (Lexington, Massachusetts) has entered a definitive merger agreement with EPIX Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, Massachusetts), for EPIX to take over Predix for about $90 million, including the assumption of net debt at closing, and with a potential milestone payment of $35 million.

Predix is focused on G-protein coupled receptors and ion channels, with PRX-00023 in Phase III trials for anxiety and expected to enter Phase II studies for depression next year.

EPIX develops pharmaceuticals for MRI and is seeking to transform itself into a specialty pharma firm by taking over a company with a "non-speculative" technology, said Michael Astrue, interim CEO of EPIX, during a conference call.

Astrue, formerly CEO of Transkaryotic Therapies (TKT; also of Cambridge), joined EPIX in September to help the firm advance its blood-imaging agent Vasovist and find a therapeutics firm to acquire.

The boards of both companies have approved the merger, and the close is expected to take place this summer.

Michael Kauffman, president and CEO of Predix, will become CEO of the combined company and a member of the reconstituted board. Andrew Uprichard, EPIX's current president and COO, will become president of the new firm.

In other dealmaking news:

• MDS Diagnostic Services (Toronto), a provider of laboratory testing and management services in Canada and a subsidiary of MDS (Toronto), reported the sale of its interest in the Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS; Calgary, Alberta), partnership to the Calgary Health Region (CHR; also Calgary).

CHR purchased MDS's 25% interest in CLS for $21.4 million. The business, which was moved into discontinued operations in 4Q05, generated about $70 million in revenues and $1.5 million in net income in 2005. MDS said it will record this sale in the second quarter ending April 30.

• Almac Diagnostics (Craigavon, Northern Ireland) and Rosetta Biosoftware (Seattle) reported that Almac (formerly ArraDx) has licensed the Rosetta Resolver system for use in the development of new microarray approaches for diagnosing cancer and predicting therapeutic outcomes. The Resolver system also will be used in the provision of gene expression analysis services offered by Almac to academic, biotech and pharmaceutical customers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Resolver system is a high-capacity data storage, retrieval, and analysis solution for gene expression data.

Yelena Shevelenko, vice president and general manager of Rosetta Biosoftware, said, "The Resolver system provides a flexible platform to enable researchers to use microarray data in a large biological context, such as the development of disease-specific microarrays for diagnosing cancer."

Professor Paul Harkin, CEO of Almac Diagnostics, said, "Almac Diagnostics is pioneering a novel transcriptomics-based approach to develop tools, which will radically improve diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The Resolver system provides the comprehensive solution necessary for us to advance this type of research and realize more targeted and personalized approaches for cancer diagnosis and prognosis."

The Rosetta Resolver system is developed and supported by Rosetta Biosoftware, and is distributed exclusively by Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, California).

Almac Diagnostics, a division of the Almac Sciences Group and a developer of genomic expression services and products, has two divisions: Genomic Services provides gene expression and bioinformatic services; the Research & Development Division develops cancer tests.

Rosetta Biosoftware, a business unit of Rosetta Inpharmatics (a subsidiary of Merck), is a provider of informatics solutions for life science research.

• Kimball Electronics Group (Jasper, Indiana), through its related subsidiaries, has acquired the manufacturing operation of the diagnostics division of Bayer Healthcare (Leverkusen, Germany), in Bridgend, Wales. Kimball purchased the equipment and inventory and hired the 164 Bayer employees working at the site. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Kimball Electronics is a contract electronics manufacturing services company that specializes in durable electronics with applications in the medical, industrial controls, public safety and automotive industries. Kimball said it will continue to provide manufacturing services to Bayer for the products Bayer currently manufactures at the plant as well as seek new medical customers for the facility.

• Omron Healthcare (Bannockburn, Illinois) reported completing the acquisition of Colin Medical Instruments (CMI; San Antonio). The announcement follows Omron Healthcare Co.'s (Kyoto, Japan) acquisition of Colin Medical Technology (Komaki, Japan) in June 2005.

Colin products include vital signs monitors, inpatient blood pressure monitoring devices and vascular screening devices – all used in the professional setting. Omron Healthcare's home healthcare products include Omron brand blood pressure monitors, respiratory, weight management and thermometry products.

While CMI's production function will continue, through this acquisition, CMI's sales and marketing functions will be transitioned to Omron.

Omron Healthcare is the North American subsidiary of Omron Healthcare Co., a manufacturer of blood pressure monitors for home use. It also provides products for respiratory ailments, weight management and thermometry.