Roche to buy Germany's mtm for up to $184M

Roche has signed an agreement through which it will acquire Heidelberg, Germany-based mtm laboratories, which develops in vitro diagnostics focusing on the early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer. Roche will pay mtm shareholders roughly €130 million ($183.6 million) upfront, and up to €60 million ($84.7 million) upon reaching performance-related milestones.

mtm's proprietary test solutions are based on the p16 biomarker and have been developed for the identification and diagnosis of pre-cancerous cervical lesions. Its CINtec Plus Cytology kit is approved for use in Europe to identify over-expression of p16 in cervical pap test samples to detect precancerous lesions. Its second product, CINtec Histology, detects over-expression of p16 and is used in conjunction with traditional staining techniques to aid in the identification of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervical carcinoma in biopsy samples.

"Pathologists increasingly rely on the rapid and successful identification and clinical validation of molecular markers associated with cervical cancer," says Daniel O'Day, COO Roche Diagnostics, in a statement. "mtm products are highly complementary to Roche's innovative cobas Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) assay for cervical cancer screening, which was launched in the [U.S.] in April of this year."

Furthermore, adds O'Day, "[t]he combination of cobas HPV and p16 tests may redefine the standard of care for cervical cancer testing by improving detection, reducing unnecessary cervical biopsies and improving the confirmation of cervical pre-cancer."

Analysts have been positive about the buy. "The mtm products are highly complementary and thus the acquisition will provide Roche with a strong portfolio in cervical cancer testing," Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss said in a note, as quoted by Reuters.

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