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QuantRx to Acquire Genomics USA This Quarter; HLA-Typing Dx to Launch in '08

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QuantRx Biomedical, a Doylestown, Penn.-based molecular diagnostics company, will acquire Genomics USA sometime this quarter as it picks up a majority of shares in the private company as part of an ongoing strategy, a QuantRx official told BioArray News this week.
 
QuantRx hopes to use Genomics USA’s array technology to introduce diagnostic assays for human leukocyte antigen testing next year and expand its presence in molecular diagnostics.
 
The company has also invested in technology as diverse as lateral-flow diagnostics and fluorescence imaging based on positron emission tomography.
 
According to QuantRx’s latest 10-Q filing with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission, as of last fall the company owned approximately 10 percent of Genomics USA’s stock.
 
Bill Fleming, QuantRx’s chief science officer and founder, told BioArray News this week that the company will most likely invest more this quarter, making it the majority holder in Genomics USA.
 
“This is an ongoing process based on milestones and we have slowly picked up percentages of the company,” Fleming said. “The final step in acquiring the company probably won’t be completed until sometime this quarter. It is a work in process.”
 
Genomics USA CEO Krishna Jayaraman confirmed with BioArray News this week that the two companies had been discussing another investment, and that a future cash injection from QuantRx would make it the majority owner.
 
Genomics USA, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is currently funded through two Small Business Innovation Research grants: a Phase I award for $498,500 it received in 2004 to develop an HLA assay using its array technology, and a three-year Phase II grant for $3 million it won last September (see BAN 10/10/2006). 
 
Fleming said that QuantRx plans to pool that cash with an undisclosed investment it has made in a new Portland, Ore.-based R&D facility to prepare Genomics USA’s HLA typing chip for commercialization in 2008. QuantRx said in a separate statement this week that the 7,000-square-foot facility in Portland is scheduled to open next month.
 
“We are looking at bringing [Genomics USA] into this facility,” Fleming said. “The work on our genomic array technology will be done here. That’s really where the fit is,” he said. Genomics USA recently relocated its R&D facility to Tucson, Ariz. (see BAN 10/24/2006).”
 
Fleming added that the first array diagnostic to come out of its labs will be the HLA typing test, which he expects to become frequently used in neonatal screening.
 
“Where we believe the market is making this an additional test for newborns,” he said. “Knowing your HLA type will determine of course which vaccines you can be given and what your immune response will be to a drug, so it will be something we believe will become as essential as knowing your blood type,” Fleming added.
 
Rather than seeking 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration, like other array companies have done for HLA tests, Fleming said that QuantRx would seek pre-market approval.
 
Fleming said that QuantRx’s long term plans include “proteomic assays for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and probably the earliest one will be an influenza screen to determine the type of flu.” However, those tests are still in R&D.

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