Inverness Medical Innovations Inc. agreed to acquire privately owned Ischemia Technologies Inc., a merger that would add a biomarker for detecting acute coronary syndrome to its growing diagnostics platform.

Inverness, of Waltham, Mass., would provide about $22.4 million of its common stock. The acquisition is expected to close this quarter.

Inverness officials could not be reached for comment. The company's shares (AMEX:IMA) closed at $23.05 Wednesday, down 81 cents.

With the acquisition, Inverness will get Denver-based Ischemia's in vitro diagnostic test for cardiac ischemia, a condition involving an insufficient blood supply getting to the heart due to artery obstruction. Ischemia Modified Albumin (IMA), a serum biomarker, allows early evaluation of acute coronary syndrome, prior to heart attacks, in patients with cardiac-suggestive symptoms, such as angina. IMA also can be used in conjunction with electrocardiography and troponin, a marker of cardiac necrosis.

In February 2003, the FDA cleared Ischemia's Albumin Cobalt Binding test, which detects IMA by measuring the metal-binding capacity of albumin in human serum.

Inverness said it will continue to advance Ischemia's commercialization strategy, while possibly adding the marker to existing Inverness platforms for further development.

Wednesday's announcement marks the second acquisition for Inverness this month. The company said Feb. 8 that it agreed to purchase Portland, Maine-based Binax Inc., a privately held company that develops, manufactures and distributes rapid diagnostic products for infectious disease testing. Under terms of the agreement, Inverness is to acquire all of Binax' stock in exchange for 1.4 million shares of Inverness common stock and an additional $8.6 million cash at the acquisition's close. Inverness also agreed to provide for an additional consideration to Binax shareholders of up to $11 million cash, contingent on Binax meeting certain new product development objectives over five years.

In September 2003, Inverness purchased San Diego-based Applied Biotech Inc., a manufacturer of diagnostic tests, from Apogent Technologies Inc., of Portsmouth, N.H. in exchange for $13.4 million and 692,596 shares of Inverness common stock.

The company has added to its list of products through partnership agreements, as well. Inverness received exclusive worldwide distribution rights in June for the Simplify D-dimer rapid test manufactured by AGEN Biomedical Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia. D-dimer is a protein released into the circulatory system during the process of fibrin blood clot breakdown, and its measurement in the blood is used to diagnose deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

In April, the company gained rights to a biomarker technology from Roche Diagnostics, a unit of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. Through its Inverness Medical Switzerland GmbH subsidiary, the company agreed to license, on a nonexclusive basis, patent rights relating to the development, manufacture and marketing of immunoassays that detect a biomarker of congestive heart failure, NT-proBNP. The option rights were granted as part of a previous settlement stemming from litigation involving Inverness' rapid assay lateral flow patents.

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