Agilent bolsters presence in clinical lab software sector with Cartagenia buyout

Agilent Technologies ($A) has struck a deal to acquire Cartagenia. The buyout will give Agilent software to interpret clinical genomics data, an asset it plans to offer to its molecular oncology customers.

Agilent's Jacob Thaysen

Cartagenia's business is based around the cloud-based genetic variant interpretation platform it markets to laboratories. The pitch is that Cartagenia can free labs from the need to set up their own servers, research which algorithms and databases are needed and adapt their IT systems to the emergence of new standards. Labs have proven receptive to the idea, with more than 100 sites in the U.S., Europe and Australia signing up to use the platform since Cartagenia opened its doors in Leuven, Belgium, in 2008. Cartagenia has since set up an office in Cambridge, MA.

Agilent is clearly among the company's admirers. Santa Clara, CA-based Agilent is set to acquire Cartagenia on May 19 and offer roles to all of its 36 staff. Work will then begin on promoting Cartagenia's platform to Agilent's clinical genetics and molecular oncology clients. The faster turnaround of data from next-generation sequencing and microarrays is at the heart of the combined company's offer. "Agilent and Cartagenia can help remove bottlenecks inherent in analysis, interpretation and reporting clinical data," Jacob Thaysen, president of Agilent's diagnostics and genomics group, said in a statement.

The deal is another attempt by Agilent to use its $2.1 billion cash reserves--most of which is trapped overseas--to accelerate its growth. Agilent is also reportedly a potential takeover target itself, particularly now it has shed its electronic measurement business to focus on biological and chemical testing.

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