Siemens buys German liquid biopsy startup to enter molecular oncology Dx

David Stein, Siemens Healthineers head of strategy and innovation

Siemens ($SIE) is making good on its commitment earlier this month to expand in molecular diagnostics with the acquisition of Neo New Oncology. The German startup has a genomic diagnostic platform to enable physicians to better select targeted cancer therapies. Its offering includes assays for both tissue and bodily fluids--and it has a liquid biopsy test to create a profile of solid tumors.

Early this month, Siemens Healthcare rebranded to become Siemens Healthineers and announced it would expand in therapeutic and molecular diagnostics as well as add offerings in managed services, consulting and digital services. The deal already closed in late March, with Siemens obviously waiting till it repositioned its Healthcare business to reveal it.

"Siemens Healthineers' mission is to be the enabler of healthcare providers worldwide, working together with them as a trusted partner to improve medical outcomes and to reduce costs," said the business' head of strategy and innovation David Stein in a statement. "As part of this mission, we are focused on expanding our business in three fields: Molecular Diagnostics, Services and Advanced Therapies.

"Neo New Oncology aligns with these three fields by providing molecular diagnostics-based services and products that have the potential to guide diagnosis as well as therapy decisions in oncology," he added. "This acquisition allows us to enter this field, an area not covered by our current business, with state-of-the-art offerings."

The financial details of the Neo acquisition remained undisclosed--but the startup just raised a tiny €5 million ($5.7 million) Series D round from investors last October. It was founded in 2012 and has almost 30 employees.

Neo just launched its liquid biopsy test in November; it aims to offer comprehensive cancer diagnostics from a single blood sample. Called NeoLiquid, the test is "uniquely able to detect all therapeutically relevant point mutations, small insertions and deletions, translocations and copy number changes," the company said. Specifically, it identifies clinically relevant, cancer-specific point mutations, insertions, deletions and gene fusions in circulating cell-free DNA down to an allele frequency of 0.1%. It can also detect copy number alterations in circulating tumor DNA, the company said.

The test is intended to enable parallel analyses of the primary tumor, as well as any metastases. NeoLiquid is expected to be useful for patients who are experiencing cancer recurrence or even for those who wish to avoid rebiopsies of tumors. It is useful with solid tumors, such as lung, skin, breast, stomach, intestinal or ovarian cancer, or in childhood malignancies such as neuroblastoma.

NeoLiquid requires only 18 milliliters of blood for analysis, with samples that can be shipped to the company via standard mail service. Test results require 10 to 15 business days.

"The acquisition of Neo New Oncology will allow us to offer high-quality oncology tests and related services for physicians, hospitals and laboratories," said Sebastian Kronmueller, head of Molecular Services at Siemens Healthineers. "Covering both blood-based and tissue based genomic tests, we will be able to provide clinically actionable results based on the latest scientific insights."

- here is the announcement