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SQI Diagnostics to Acquire Array Hardware Firm Scienion for $15.6M


By Justin Petrone

SQI Diagnostics plans to acquire German microarray equipment and services firm Scienion for $15.6 million in cash and stock, the companies said this week.

According to a joint statement, Toronto-based SQI said it believes it will benefit from the deal by being able to develop new array-based diagnostic products and by using Scienion's base in Europe as a launch pad to reach new customers.

Specifically, the firms claim the arrangement will combine Scienion's "strength and technology leadership position in microarray printing, surface chemistry, and automation of microarray processes" with SQI's "assay-development processes and analytical systems for running microarray tests."

In addition, both companies have "expertise [in] highly technical microarray printing."

The deal will also "accelerate the commercialization of [the firms'] combined pipeline of custom microarray diagnostic products" by pairing Scienion's "microarray print expertise" and arrayer equipment with SQI’s automated microarray platforms, the companies said.

Following the transaction, SQI will have around 400 customers, "many of whom are potential customers for our combined service offerings and research-use-only and in vitro diagnostic products," the firms said.

Additionally, sales of Scienion products and services will expand in North America using SQI's sales support for Scienion's equipment, while SQI will make use of Scienion's sales and engineering support in Europe to market SQI’s suite of diagnostic products and services there.

"We believe the proposed sale of Scienion to SQI will further our combined entry into the market for providing enabling technologies for multiplexed protein, antibody, antigen and molecular … microarrays," the companies said in a statement.

The closing of the transaction is subject to a "number of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, and is subject to financing," the firms said in a statement. SQI Chief Financial Officer Andrew Morris declined to immediately discuss the deal, as did Scienion CEO Holger Eickhoff.

Terms of the acquisition also call for SQI to issue 735,294 shares of its stock.

Founded in 2006, SQI has developed a portfolio that consists of its automated SQiDWorks system; the SqiDman, a semi-automated version of SQiDWorks for lower-throughput users; and the QuantiSpot, a 96-well microarray consumable.

The SQiDWorks and SqiDman systems can typically process multiplexed assays to quantify serum concentrations of up to 12 individual biomarkers or qualitatively detect up to 24 biomarkers per patient, according to SQI.

In 2009, SQI received 510(k) clearance to sell its IgXplex RA test, which is designed to help physicians diagnose and monitor patients with rheumatoid arthritis. SQI has held a Health Canada license for its RA test since 2008.

This year, the company also achieved FDA clearance for its IgXPlex celiac qualitative assay. The 4-plex microarray-based assay tests for anti-tissue transglutaminase IgG and IgA. The celiac assay previously received regulatory approval in Canada and CE marking in Europe (BAN 5/3/2011).

In addition to its suite of celiac assays, SQI is developing a quantitative 12-plex panel for lupus and a quantitative 3-plex panel for vasculitis. Morris told BioArray News in May that SQI planned to launch its platform in Europe later this year.

Founded in 2000 in Berlin, privately held Scienion has launched six distinct sciFlexarrayer instruments to date: the entry-level model DW, which can produce four arrays in one run; the S3 for R&D applications; the S5 and S11 for medium-throughput array manufacturing; the S100, which can produce over 1,000 arrays per run for high-throughput manufacturing; and the compact SX system, which includes components from all of Scienion's arrayers in one enclosure.

The company has announced a number of arrayer placements and original equipment manufacturing deals in recent months.

Most recently, Scienion announced a deal with Darmstadt, Germany-based R-Biopharm last week. According to Scienion, R-Biopharm acquired a SciFlexarrayer to print chips for the detection of residues of different antibiotics in milk.

In a deal closer to the molecular diagnostics market, Euroimmun, a German medical laboratory diagnostics firm, announced in February that it had placed a Scienion sciFlexarrayer arraying platform in its lab to help it develop multiplexed diagnostics and produce new tests (BAN 2/22/2011).

Genomica, a Spanish molecular diagnostics firm, similarly said in February that it would debut array-based tests for sepsis and enteric diseases in the second half of this year. Scienion has acted as an array manufacturer for the Madrid-based vendor since 2009 (BAN 2/8/2011).

Scienion CEO Holger Eickhoff told BioArray News last year that the firm was looking to attract more IVD firms to its platform. "I think that diagnostics is the key customer segment that we are dealing with today," he said in July 2010. "Diagnostic companies are our key market" (BAN 7/27/2010).

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com

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