By Mary Welch

Ireland reached across the ocean to claim a diagnostics firm for its industry, as Trinity Biotech plc bought from Syva Co. its Microtrak line of tests for sexually transmitted diseases, paying $10.2 million in cash and loan notes.

Syva is a San Jose, Calif.-based subsidiary of Dade Behring Inc., of Deerfield, Ill.

The tests offer Trinity a "high-revenue, high-margin acquisition which will contribute significant earnings-per-share growth" next year, said Ronan O'Caoimh, CEO of Dublin, Ireland-based Trinity.

Of the $10.2 million, $4.9 million is due upon signing, with the rest payable in two equal installments in 12 and 24 months. Trinity will also purchase about $5 million worth of Syva's inventory as part of the purchase price.

The Microtrak product line comprises two tests for chlamydia, as well as tests for other sexually transmitted diseases. Chlamydia is a painless pelvic inflammatory disease caused by the microorganism Chlamydia trachomatis.

In a recent study of 3,202 sexually active teen-age girls in Baltimore, 29.1 percent tested positive for the infection. The research was published in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The lead author was Gale Burstein, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, of Baltimore.

The Microtrak chlamydia test is the world's leading diagnostic for that disease. O'Caoimh said the set of products "adds to our existing line of syphilis and HIV tests, and we are positioned for substantially increased revenues" in that sector.

Trinity will assume responsibility for manufacturing and will move Syva's plant to Dublin in the first quarter of next year. The company expects the move will significantly help the profitability of the Microtrak products.

One chlamydia test uses standard microtitre plate technology; the other utilizes immunofluorescence (IFA) technology on a slide. Among the other IFA products in Syva's product line are tests for cytomegalovirus, herpes and gonorrhea.

The tests will be distributed in the U.S. through the Cranbury, N.J.-based Wampole Laboratories division of Carter Wallace Inc., of New York, and by Dade Behring in Europe, Asia, Canada, Africa and Latin America. *