By Kirell Lakhman
ExonHit Therapeutics' pending acquisition of RedPath Integrated Pathology could enable the French biotech to offer its RNA-based molecular diagnostic services in the US, and may open the European pathology market to RedPath's molecular assays.
The deal, which will cost Paris-based ExonHit as much as $32.5 million in cash and stock, is expected to close in July, ExonHit said in a statement yesterday.
RedPath, a Pittsburgh-based CLIA lab, currently offers its PathFinderTG pancreatic cancer assay, which relies on a "broad panel of microsatellite markers" to detect difficult-to-diagnose tumors in tissue, cytology, and fluid samples.
In its statement, ExonHit said RedPath has "earned reimbursement" for the test in the US, but did not elaborate.
RedPath also has a handful of other cancer molecular assays in various stages of development: one designed to differentiate primary from metastasis tumors, which is set to launch, and a pair of tests in "late-stage development" and "several [in] earlier-stage development."
In addition, ExonHit said it believes the acquisition will help expand the market for its AclarusDx platform, which currently comprises a molecular assay designed to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
In February, ExonHit said it plans to commercialize the microarray-based assay in Europe by the first quarter of 2011, and that it is in discussions with the FDA about submitting the test for a possible 2012 launch in the US, according to Sample sister publication BioArray News.
According to ExonHit, RedPath "will remain highly involved in the development and commercialization of the PathFinderTG line," which it calls "a key asset for the commercial success" of AclarusDx in the US.
The company also said it is "eager to bring the clinical solutions to the EU."
The deal will make RedPath a part of ExonHit's US operations, currently based in Gaithersburg, Md. In addition, RedPath CEO Mark Myslinski will lead ExonHit’s global diagnostics division and get a seat on the firm's board.
Terms of the acquisition call for ExonHit to pay RedPath $12.5 million upfront, another $10 million in stock, and to make sales milestone payments that could total another $9.5 million, according to Sample sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News. Both companies are privately held.
According to RedPath, its PathFinderTG technology can perform mutational analysis on "many types of pathology specimens," and "unlike tests for inherited genetic predisposition to cancer, it is an analysis of acquired genomic damage in an individual patient’s tumor."
The technology is designed to "differentiate metastatic, synchronous, and recurrent tumors in various organs such as breast, lung, liver, endometrium, and ovary."
ExonHit, meantime, uses its alternative RNA-splicing technology to develop molecular diagnostics and targeted therapeutics for neurodegenerative and cancer indications.