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Gen-Probe to Spin Off Industrial Testing Assets

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Gen-Probe is spinning off its industrial testing assets into a new, independently operated company that will develop molecular assays for biopharmaceutical production, water and food safety testing, and other applications, the firm said today.

The new company will be called Roka Bioscience, and Gen-Probe will hold a 19.9 percent stake in the firm. It will begin operations as an independent entity immediately, with 18 Gen-Probe employees joining Roka.

Gen-Probe said that affiliates of private equity firms OrbiMed Advisors, TPG, and New Enterprise Associates are providing Roka with $37.2 million in funding. Roka will use the money to complete development of several industrial assays and Gen-Probe's Closed Unit Dose Assay system, a fully integrated, portable, molecular testing instrument that is being designed to deliver accurate results in approximately one hour, said Gen-Probe.

"Our ownership position enables us to participate in Roka's long-term success, while allowing us to concentrate Gen-Probe's internal resources and core competencies on clinical opportunities in infectious disease testing, blood screening, transplant diagnostics, and oncology," Gen-Probe President and CEO Carl Hull said in a statement.

Gen-Probe said that it will receive royalties on any potential Roka product sales, and also retains rights to use the CUDA system for clinical applications. Gen-Probe also will provide contract manufacturing and certain other services to Roka on a transitional basis, it said.

The spin off is not expected to have a material effect on Gen-Probe's 2009 earnings, the firm said.

Gen-Probe's industrial testing collaborations with Millipore and General Electric's GE Water have been transferred to Roka.