Centocor Inc. has acquired a British diagnostics company for $8million, its first move into the field of infectious diseasediagnostics.

The company, Mercia Diagnostics Ltd. of Guildford,manufactures diagnostics for sexually transmitted diseases,based on monoclonal antibodies.

"We have an embryonic effort under way" to developdiagnostics for infectious diseases, Centocor spokesman RichardKoenig told BioWorld. "This really accelerates it."

Mercia's line of some 20 diagnostic products will allowimmediate entry into the market. The Malvern, Pa., companypreviously focused on cancer diagnostics.

Financial information on the acquired company, founded in1984, are not being disclosed. Koenig said Mercia's sales growthlast year was 20 percent.

Centocor Diagnostics also will now have a Europeanmanufacturing base. The company's own research has startedinto a diagnostic for septic shock, according to Koenig.

Early diagnosis has been a problem in treatment strategies forseptic shock, a condition caused by massive infection. Sepsis isthe target for the company's Centoxin monoclonal therapeutic,which is awaiting final Food and Drug Administrationmarketing approval.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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