DUBLIN, Ireland — Trinity Biotech plc has acquired the infectious-diseases diagnostics business of Cambridge Diagnostics Ireland Ltd., a subsidiary of Selfcare Inc., for US$280,000 in cash and 555,731 shares of Selfcare common stock, held by Trinity.

The deal, valued at approximately US$4.5 million, resolves a longstanding impasse over a disputed tranche of shares in Selfcare, of Waltham, Mass. Dublin-based Trinity acquired the shareholding from the U.K. company Enviromed plc for US$2.6 million. The latter firm had entered a joint venture with Selfcare in 1994, which ended in a legal dispute.

Although Selfcare's shares are trading below US$4, the two companies previously had fixed the value of the Trinity-held stock at more than US$7.5 per share, said Jim Walsh, chief operating officer at Trinity.

The product line consists of three tests for detection of HIV antibodies, which yielded revenues of US$3.2 million last year, plus additional tests for Lyme disease and delta hepatitis. Selfcare had not actively marketed the latter products, according to Walsh, but Trinity expects them to generate additional sales, as they complement its existing product range. "You can't sell these things in isolation; you need a panel," Walsh said.

The HIV tests include Capillus HIV 1/2 and RTD HIV 1/2, which are rapid tests that detect HIV antibodies in whole blood, serum or plasma, and a microtiter plate assay, Recombigen, for diagnosis of HIV in clinical and reference laboratories. Trinity Biotech plans to manufacture and market these products in parallel with its own rapid HIV tests for the immediate future, Walsh said. The company is "not in a hurry" to consolidate the two product lines, he added. *