A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Asuragen (Austin, Texas) reported completing its formation as a new molecular diagnostic company resulting from the completion of the $273 million sale of the Research Products Division of Ambion (Austin) to Applied Biosystems Group (Foster City, California).

Asuragen includes Ambion's Diagnostics and Services divisions, along with the formation of a new discovery group to transform research into clinical products. The company will have a focus around microRNAs and their potential roles as cancer diagnostics. Asuragen will be led Matt Winkler, founder and former CEO of Ambion.

Asuragen will have more than 95 employees from Ambion and the diagnostic and therapeutic rights to Ambion's intellectual property.

"My vision for Asuragen is to become a fully integrated diagnostic company focused on molecular oncology," Winkler said.

The company is being funded with about $35 million in proceeds from the sale of Ambion's research products division. This transaction is expected to close in late February.

In other dealmaking news:

• SunTech Medical (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), a subsidiary of SunTech Medical Group (Oxford, UK), specializing in motion-tolerant, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring products and technology, has acquired an equity position in Empirical Technologies (Charlottesville, Virginia). Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition gives SunTech access to intellectual property assets in continuous beat-to-beat, non-invasive blood pressure measurement.

"Our mission is to be the dominant supplier of blood pressure [BP] monitoring products and technology," said Dayn McBee, CEO of SunTech Medical. "We have filled another significant and strategic piece of our business. SunTech Medical's intimate knowledge of the blood pressure industry combined with Empirical Technologies Corporation's innovative technology creates a synergistic partnership."

Empirical Technologies is a solution-based, hardware-oriented business with a staff, comprised of PhD and post-doctoral researchers. It reports holding 11 U.S. patents and one provisional application, and has received research funding from DARPA, NHLBI, U.S. Army, Office of Naval Research and CCAT at CSU San Bernadino.

SunTech offers products for 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring, cardiac stress blood pressure monitoring, customizable OEM blood pressure modules and blood pressure cuffs.

SunTech Medical is a holding company focused on medical diagnostics.

• OnCURE Medical (Newport Beach, California), a provider of outpatient radiation therapy services, reported acquiring a radiation cancer therapy center in Avon Park, Florida, from Radiation Oncology Associates.

Dr. Shyam Paryani, OnCURE chairman, said, "With the addition of this center to our existing central Florida network, which includes cancer centers in Sebring and Bradenton, OnCURE is furthering its commitment to expand our regional networks of radiation centers in association with quality doctors."

OnCURE owns, operates and manages 29 radiation centers and other mobile radiation and radiology imaging units, all in California and Florida.

• ChoicePoint (Alpharetta, Georgia) said it has acquired ShortStop (Green Bay, Wisconsin), which operates a network of drug/health testing clinics. Terms were not disclosed.

The ShortStop network specializes in urine drug test collections, breath alcohol testing, DOT and pre-employment physicals and hair test collections. It also has networks of clinics for specialized company physicals, saliva alcohol testing and blood draws. It contracts with more than 10,000 collection sites nationwide to provide pre- and continuing employment tests and compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines.

ChoicePoint said the addition of ShortStop would expand its network of collection locations, enhancing service to customers as they seek ways to mitigate risks through pre- and continuing employment screens.

ChoicePoint said the deal will not have material impact on its financial results and will not be dilutive to earnings.

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