Accelerate Diagnostics' infectious disease tests draw $45M in new funding

Accelerate Diagnostics CEO Lawrence Mehren

Arizona's Accelerate Diagnostics ($AXDX) reeled in close to $45 million in new funding to help advance the development and sale of its infectious disease in vitro diagnostics tests and tools.

The financing round, known as a rights offering, is relatively complex. About $25.5 million comes from insider investors/stockholders who exercised their subscription privileges to buy more than 1.5 million shares of common stock, with directors of the companies forming a large portion of this funding segment. The rest, nearly $19.5 million, involves standby investor commitments from entities including the Jack W. Schuler Living Trust, the Schuler Family Foundation, Oracle Institutional Partners, L.P. and Oracle Partners. As part of the offering, they'll snatch up remaining shares of the company's common stock not included in the company stockholder portion of the offering, Accelerate Diagnostics said.

Accelerate focuses primarily on diagnostic tests and instruments designed to spot infectious pathogens and determine whether they'll respond to antibiotics. Its rapid ID/AST test system (culture-free with genomic and phenotypic detection abilities) targets hospital-acquired infections and pathogens that might resist conventional treatments.

Infectious disease testing is a hot space with an increasing number of players. BioFire Diagnostics (now owned by French diagnostics giant bioMérieux), which recently won 510(k) clearance for a superquick gastrointestinal panel for infectious diarrhea. Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) diagnostics arm has also experienced some success in this sector, recently reporting a double-digit increase in international molecular diagnostics sales driven by the infectious disease space. In April, Merck's ($MRK) venture capital arm led a $12 million financing round for AdvanDx, a molecular diagnostics outfit in Massachusetts focused on screening for pathogens behind major hospital-acquired infections.

Accelerate's leadership carries some diagnostics clout itself. CEO Lawrence Mehren was chief financial officer of Ventana Medical Systems from 2007 to 2008, according to the website, which is when Roche ($RHHBY) snatched up the innovative tissue diagnostics company for $3.4 billion. Mehren remained with Ventana as head of global business through 2011, according to Accelerate's website. Steve Reichling, Accelerate's chief financial officer, held executive roles at both Roche Diagnostics and Ventana. Kurt Reinhardt, its head of operations, is also a multiyear Ventana veteran.

- read the release

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