Diagnostics & Imaging Week Correspondent

ZICHRON YAAKOV, Israel Rosetta Genomics reported completing its third financing round with $4 million from private investors led by Kadima High Tech, under Yossi Ben-Yosef.

The company said it will use the financing to expand its intellectual property protection and to begin animal trials.

CEO Isaac Bentwich founded the start-up in 2000, his second company. His first company, Pegasus Medical, was sold to healthcare informatics giant HBOC (now McKesson) for $15 million in 1995, acquiring his Smart Medical Record, for computerization of medical files. Bentwich's father, Zvi, a renowned immunologist and AIDS researcher, is Rosetta Genomics' chief scientist and chair of the scientific advisory board.

Rosetta Genomics has the world's largest library of sequenced microRNA genes, it said, having discovered more than 100 unique human microRNAs. Those short gene sequences (averaging about 22 nucleotides in length) were considered noise in the genome because they do not code for protein. Recently, they were shown to tune the expression of exons, or target genes, by repressing the translation of their mRNAs into protein.

Elbit unit readies for IPO

Elbit Medical Imaging's (Zichron Yaakov, Israel) wholly owned subsidiary InSightec (Tirat HaCarmel, Israel) is prepping for an upcoming Wall Street initial public offering (IPO) and has selected Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley as lead underwriters, winning out over JP Morgan, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs.

InSightec's InExAblate surgical tool uses MRI to guide its external "knife," a focused high frequency ultrasound beam.

The IPO is expected for the summer with the start-up at a company value of $500 million-$600 million. Elbit Medical Imaging, controlled by Motti Zisser, said that he was pleased with the choice. Zisser holds 52.2% of InsighTec; GE Healthcare has 20.6%; MTA 6.9%; and the employees 20.3%.

Orbotech acquires Imarad

Orbotech (Yavne, Israel) recently signed an agreement to purchase Imarad Imaging Systems (Rehovot), a privately held company manufacturing high-performance, solid-state gamma radiation detectors based on a proprietary cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) crystal-growth technology set to be used in nuclear medicine.

Orbotech Medical Solutions (OMS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orbotech, will acquire all the assets of Imarad for $7 million-$8 million, and, subject to the achievement of sales milestones, OMS will make payments to Imarad through the end of 2008, to a maximum of $26 million.

OMS also announced a new strategic alliance with diagnostic imaging products and services provider GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), a $14 billion dollar unit of General Electric. GE Healthcare will become a preferred customer of OMS for solid-state radiation detectors developed on the basis of the CZT technology.

Dr. S. Morry Blumenfeld, an advisor to Orbotech in this transaction, and co-founding partner of MediTech Advisors specializing in the global medical devices field, told Diagnostics & Imaging Week, "The CZT crystal growth technology is truly ground-breaking and enabling technology. We expect that it will become a vital element in nuclear medicine, leading to significant growth opportunities."

During his 34-year career at General Electric, Blumenfeld served as chairman of the board of Elgems, a forerunner of GE's current nuclear medicine business, and helped lead the development of the key technologies of computed tomography and MRI. He retired from GEMs as the head of the Israeli division.

Orbotech co-president of business and strategy, Rani Cohen, said, "Imarad has developed a highly innovative, enabling solid-state detector technology which is capable of facilitating significant improvements in image quality and diagnostic capabilities, as well as substantial cost savings, over currently available, analog-based nuclear medicine imaging solutions. We believe that there is a very substantial growth potential for advanced technology solutions that surmount existing limitations and specifically address critical customer needs in the expanding area of medical imaging.

"For Orbotech, this transaction represents an important step in the implementation of our strategy of diversification into new growth areas for imaging technologies. We believe that the pursuit of this strategy, together with the current strength of Orbotech's traditional business, position the company well for both short and long term growth."