Sibia Inc. and Skandigen AB announced today the sale of their10-year-old joint venture, Siska Diagnostics Inc., to OrganonTeknika.

The only terms of the deal disclosed came from Skandigen ofSweden, which said that its share of the consideration is $3.4million, resulting in a capital gain of about $2.65 million.

Siska holds all rights to the nucleic acid probe technologydeveloped by Sibia, including gene-amplification technologiesknown as TAS and 3SR.

Dale Kirkbride, vice president of corporate development forOrganon of Durham, N.C., told BioWorld that patent-protectionconsiderations were a factor in the purchase.

Organon, a subsidiary of Dutch chemical company Akzo Nobel,licenses the nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA)technology from Cangene Corp., which was in interferenceproceedings with Siska over amplification technology. Majordifferences between the technologies and polymerase chainreaction include that they are isothermal and are based on RNAtranscription instead of DNA replication.

The technology no longer is as useful to Sibia as it had beenbecause the La Jolla, Calif., company has changed its focus,according to its president, William Comer. "Sibia can now put allits resources into its core activity: the development of drugs forAlzheimer's disease, epilepsy and other neurodegenerativeconditions," Comer said.

Michael Dunn, Sibia's director of business development, toldBioWorld that the intention was always to develop thetechnology, then sell it off to a diagnostic company formanufacture and distribution.

Skandigen said the sale of Siska is a natural step in its strategyto sell off some assets when the companies enter into acommercial phase.

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.