In a move intended to broaden both its internal development efforts and its services to OEM diagnostics manufacturers, Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California) yesterday unveiled plans to acquire Dynal Biotech (Oslo, Norway), a developer of molecular separation and purification technologies, from its majority owner, Nordic Capital (Stockholm) and a co-investor, for about $380 million (NOK 2.5 billion).

Dynal has been a leader in the magnetic bead technologies sector, with those technologies used in cell separation and purification, cell stimulation, protein research, nucleic acid research and microbiology.

Sean George, vice president of diagnostic tools and solutions for Invitrogen, said that the company “is always on the lookout for premier technologies and premier brands in our industry,“ and that the Dynal purchase clearly extends that strategy.

Dynal, he told Medical Device Daily, offers “the premier brand name in magnetic bead separation. They pioneered the field of microspheres and magnetic microspheres, and we intend to take this technology and utilize throughout our applications and product development.“

He characterized Dynal's bead tech platform as “robust and versatile, able to drive through a lot of application areas.“

With the addition, George said a continuing emphasis for Invitrogen will be a balance between internal new product development and acting as “a premier partner with companies engaged in developing diagnostic tools and assays and marketing those tests in hospitals.“

Invitrogen has “no solid plans“ at this time for organizational changes or cutbacks at Dynal, he said. Rather, the company will focus “on serving the customers — we're working hard and investing in [Dynal] to supply better solutions“ to diagnostic OEMs.

“We really look at our people within our company and [those] acquired as our most valuable asset,“ George added.

Invitrogen said the acquisition would give it bead-based isolation technologies that can be used across the company's portfolio of technology products.

Dynal manufactures the Dynabead system enabling production of highly uniform spherical microparticles that are super-paramagnetic, meaning they exhibit magnetic properties only when placed within a magnetic field. Dynal treats the surface of these particles with chemical groups and biological materials useful in research.

Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Invitrogen, said that, like the company's purchase of Molecular Probes (Eugene, Oregon) last year, Dynal offers the chance for new combinations with Invitrogen product offerings to create “breakthrough innovations.“

He added: “The major product enhancements made possible by the use of Dynal's Dynabead system will further our mission of accelerating disease research and drug discovery, as well as our initiative to provide cutting-edge tools to diagnostic companies worldwide.“

Dynabead “smart“ surface technology can be applied to many of Invitrogen's products, the company said, to produce “expanded sets of matched reagent solutions around genes, antibodies, enzymes, cell culture media and detection products, with uses in various research areas, including stem cell and cell therapy applications, as well as new products supporting molecular diagnostics.“

“We believe that products resulting from combining the two companies' technologies will play a key role in supporting several emerging trends in healthcare,“ said Lucier.

“One example of the application of Invitrogen/Dynal synergies in healthcare involves treatments that focus on strengthening a patient's own immune system,“ he said. “Separating specific cells that play a key role in fighting disease is a cornerstone of this immunotherapy.“

Lucier added, “By coupling the Dynabead technology with targeted antibodies from Invitrogen's extensive collection, through our anticipated purchase of Zymed Laboratories [South San Francisco (MDD, Jan. 11, 2005)], researchers will have an efficient and effective system capable of identifying and isolating these important cells from a single blood sample.“

Invitrogen said that the isolation and detection capabilities of Dynabeads also will enable it to provide new R&D targets in the areas of assay development, RNA interference, DNA cloning and proteomic analysis.

Jon Hindar, president and CEO of Dynal, said, “Becoming a part of Invitrogen is an important strategic next step that will open new possibilities and continue to strengthen our position.“

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the current quarter.

Besides its bead systems and technologies, Dynal also develops tissue-typing systems used to ensure compatibility between donors and recipients in organ and bone marrow transplants.

Dynal reports holding 13 patents, 21 patent applications, 12 registered trademarks and 10 trademark applications. The company committed about 13% of revenues to R&D in 2004, surpassing Invitrogen's goal of spending 10% of revenues on R&D. Dynal employs more than 400 in Norway, the U.S., the UK and China.

Dynal is expected to generate revenues of roughly $74 million for the period April through December 2005. Invitrogen said it expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings by 7 cents a share in 2005 and by 24 cents a share in 2006.

Assuming transaction close by the end of March, Invitrogen is raising full-year 2005 revenue guidance to a range of $1.164 billion to $1.184 billion, and an EPS range of $3.40 to $3.44 EPS.

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