PARIS – Integragen SA and OncoDNA SA have signed a tender offer agreement anticipating a takeover bid. Gosselies, Belgium-based OncoDNA will purchase 100% of the shares of Integragen, floated on the Euronext Paris Euronext Growth Markets, at a unit price of $2.60, valuing the latter’s share capital at $17.2 million.

“This friendly takeover by OncoDNA will make it possible to offer a range of services to clinicians, oncologists, researchers and biologists across the world, based on a proprietary database, which includes patient monitoring coupled with artificial intelligence,” Bernard Courtieu, CEO of Evry, France-based Integragen, told BioWorld.

Founded in 2000, Integragen went public in 2010. Since then, the med tech has rolled out DNA sequencing services with specialist expertise in exomes and complete genome analysis. “The exome alone contains most of the mutations implicated in genetic disease, even though it makes up just about 5% of the genome,” said Courtieu. The company operates sequencing platforms for major players in the genome sector and has developed a portfolio of software for genome data interpretation distributed using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and already on the market in Europe and the U.S.

Leading the way in sequencing

For the past 10 years, Integragen has sequenced 20,000 exomes and 10,000 RNA sequences at its three production sites and distributed its three genomic interpretation software tools: Sirus, Mercury and Galileo. The company, specializing in the research and identification of genetic biomarkers for clients, has increased its turnover fivefold in the space of 10 years. “Last year, operating revenues increased by 15%,” said Courtieu.

However, Integragen's equity has represented less than half the share capital since fiscal year 2019. The company, which has a free float exceeding 98%, is therefore obliged to reconstitute its equity capital rapidly. “However, our stock market trajectory has been extremely painful over the past three years,” admits Courtieu. In fact, in the last decade, Integragen has lost 70% of its market value.

Such a decline is widespread in France, with med-tech and biotech stocks taking a battering on the exchanges for four years now. Funding on the Euronext Growth market in Paris has become problematic. “This public takeover bid is more part of a proper industrial strategy. OncoDNA is developing activities that are particularly complementary to Integragen,” said Courtieu.

Going places

For its part, OncoDNA, founded in 2012, combines advanced, comprehensive testing of all clinically relevant cancer biomarkers from both solid and liquid biopsies, with a knowledgebase of proprietary cancer treatments known as Oncokdo.

“Our SaaS software platform ... turns next-generation sequencing data from the labs into actionable clinical information. More than 3,000 oncologists are currently using it,” Jean-Pol Detiffe, the company’s founder and CEO, told BioWorld. This one-stop-shop analysis and interpretation service gives oncologists results, enabling treatments that are tailored to individual cancer patient profiles. OncoDNA markets a suite of four products based on a combination of molecular and protein analysis. “In all, we cover more than 80 immunohistochemistry applications,” said Detiffe.

The firm has four main direct competitors – three American and one Swiss. The U.S.-based companies –Foundation Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: FMI), a subsidiary of F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Guardant Health Inc. (NASDAQ:GH) and Invitae Corp. (NYSE:NVTA) – have adopted an approach analyzing physical samples. In 2017, Switzerland’s Sophia Genetics SA introduced an analytical software platform that helps interpret circulating tumor DNA and circulating tumor cells in blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid and other liquid samples.

“Our competitive advantage lies in our ... proprietary database of 20,000 patients with 4 million documented genetic mutations already allowing more than 700 drugs to be monitored,” said Detiffe. Whereas 50% of Integragen's activity was devoted to the analysis of samples taken in the laboratory and 50% to the interpretation of data, remote data analysis has been behind two-thirds of OncoDNA's business in 2020.

Arrival of a major European player

With this move underway, the two plan to integrate their respective service offerings by combining DNA sequencing services and the bioinformatics tools developed by Integragen with OncoDNA's innovative testing portfolio for oncologists. “By uniting our skills, we will be integrating the entire chain of genomic operations and benefit from economies of scale in production,” said Detiffe. According to Courtieu, OncoDNA’s international presence, particularly in the U.S. and Asia, will allow his company to exploit its sequencing capabilities to its fullest extent.

Thanks to this deal, the new Franco-Belgian group, with a team of more than 100, hopes to become the European champion in precision medicine in oncology. The world market for genetic testing in oncology will be worth more than $7 billion over the next year, according to projections by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

This year and next, OncoDNA is planning to create a new extended service offering for the U.S. market. “This includes offering our tools to pharmaceutical concerns wishing to target patient cohorts for clinical trials, or to collect real-world evidence data for health economics purposes and to position their drugs better,” said Detiffe.

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