DNA Electronics snags nanoMR for $24M to gain ground in sepsis market

Steve Allen, DNA Electronics' Chief Operating Officer

U.K. diagnostics outfit DNA Electronics snatched up Albuquerque, NM-based nanoMR for $24 million to get its hands on the company's technology for the isolation of rare cells in the bloodstream and to expand its footprint in the highly competitive sepsis market.

The merger will create a combined company with facilities in the U.K. and U.S. and a team with more than 80 employees under the DNA Electronics brand. Through the acquisition, DNA Electronics will gain access to nanoMR's Pathogen Capture System, a next-generation technology that can capture bacteria and fungi or specific cell types such as tumor cells from the bloodstream in less than 30 minutes. The diagnostic outfit plans to combine nanoMR's system with its rapid Genalysis PCR and semiconductor-based DNA sequencing technology to create a system that delivers results more quickly, DNA Electronics Chief Operating Officer Steve Allen told FierceDiagnostics.

"For a lot of pathogens, you can only run the test 48 hours after taking a culture," Allen said. "We're looking to break the blood culture barrier and provide a wider range of bacteria, fungi and antimicrobial resistance and identification to give the clinician the information they need to deliver the right drug within two to three hours."

In the meantime, DNA Electronics is hard at work on its test for bloodstream infections. The company is collaborating with clinicians to look at how the test detects pathogens and is also setting its sights on the oncology field. DNA Electronics' technology has shown success when used with circulating DNA and tumor cells, and the company is making headway in the area as it works on launching its sepsis test, Allen told FierceDiagnostics. The company plans to launch clinical trials for its pathogen-detecting technology in 2016.

But DNA Electronics is far from the only diagnostics outfit looking to cash in on a growing sepsis and infectious disease market. Companies such as Abbott Laboratories ($ABT), T2 Biosystems ($TTOO) and BioFire Diagnostics are also charting progress with their tests, securing regulatory approvals and cash to develop related products. In January 2014, French diagnostics giant bioMérieux finalized its acquisition of U.S.-based BioFire Diagnostics for $450 million. BioFire touts its FDA-cleared FilmArray PCR technology that combines multiple molecular diagnostic steps into one system and has diagnostic tests in the pipeline for sepsis, meningitis, diarrhea and pneumonia.

T2 Biosystems, a 2012 Fierce 15 company, won FDA approval in September to market its T2Dx device and T2Candida test for sepsis, a system that can identify sepsis-causing pathogens from a whole blood specimen in four hours. Not to be outdone, Abbott is moving full speed ahead with its molecular diagnostic platform for blood-related infections, snagging a CE mark in December for its IRIDICA platform. The Illinois-based company's testing system can detect more than 1,000 pathogens for serious infections such as sepsis and pneumonia in less than 6 hours.

- read the release

Special Reports: The top 10 med tech M&A deals of 2013 - BioMérieux and BioFire Diagnostics | FierceMedicalDevices' 2012 Fierce 15 - T2 Biosystems

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