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Roche to Acquire Ariosa Diagnostics to Gain Foothold in NIPT, Cell-free DNA Testing Markets

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Roche will acquire non-invasive prenatal testing provider Ariosa Diagnostics of San Jose, Calif.

The purchase price was not immediately available, and the acquisition is expected to close this month.

Ariosa offers the Harmony Prenatal Test, a blood test that gauges the risk of trisomies 21, 18, and 13 as well as sex chromosome abnormalities from circulating fetal and maternal cell-free DNA starting at 10 weeks of pregnancy. Unlike some other NIPT that analyze total DNA, the Harmony test uses a targeted approach that focuses on DNA from the chromosomes of interest.

"The acquisition of Ariosa is another example of Roche's commitment to advanced molecular diagnostics," said Roland Diggelmann, COO of Roche Diagnostics, in a statement. He added that circulating cell-free DNA promises to provide diagnostic information "in many important segments," including pregnancy, cancer, and transplantation.

Ariosa launched the Harmony test, which is performed in its CLIA laboratory, in 2012, marketing it through LabCorp's Integrated Genetics business in the US and Canada. As of May 2014, the company had conducted 225,000 Harmony tests worldwide and was offering it in more than 90 countries.

The test currently runs on sequencing technology from competitor Illumina, but Ariosa said recently that it has developed a microarray-based method to carry out the test and struck a multi-year supply agreement with Affymetrix for arrays and instruments this fall.

The company was founded as Tandem Diagnostics before it changed its name to Aria Diagnostics, then Ariosa Diagnostics.

In early 2012, the firm raised $52.7 million in a Series C financing round that included investors Venrock, Domain Associates, Meritech Capital Partners, and an undisclosed mutual fund group.

Ariosa is embroiled in a number of patent infringement lawsuits, including with Sequenom, Illumina, and Illumina's Verinata Health business.