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ViaLogy Acquiring MDx Firm Premaitha Health for $17.8M; Plans to Launch NIPT in 2015

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Investment firm ViaLogy today announced it is acquiring UK molecular diagnostics firm Premaitha Health for £10.5 million ($17.8 million) in a reverse takeover.

ViaLogy will take on the Premaitha Health name with its shares to begin trading on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market next month.

ViaLogy is paying for the acquisition by issuing about 95.5 million of its ordinary shares at 11p per share. It also has raised £6.5 million through a placing and intends to raise up to another £700,000 through an open offer. Net proceeds from the placing and open offer will go toward the development and commercialization of Premaitha's Iona test, a next-generation sequencing-based non-invasive screening test for Down syndrome, and toward general working capital.

The Iona test analyzes circulating fetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream and is designed "to simplify and standardize the next-generation sequencing workflow so that laboratory customers without a background in molecular technology can offer the new tests," ViaLogy said in a statement.

The target customers for the test are the estimated 600 laboratories that offer prenatal screening in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as similar labs in other parts of the world. After the initial launch of Iona in Europe, Premaitha intends to expand sales and marketing efforts into Asia, ViaLogy said. There are no plans to bring the test to the US due to more stringent regulatory hurdles, the company said.

Premaitha is currently verifying the design of Iona with completion of this phase anticipated in September. Clinical performance and commercialization testing is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2014 and a commercial launch of the test is anticipated to begin in January 2015.

In a statement, Premaitha Health CEO Stephen Little said that in addition to the Iona test, Premaitha plans to create a template for creating diagnostic content on third-party next-generation sequencing systems.

"There are many other potential clinical applications of next-generation sequencing such as early detection of cancer and prediction of response to therapy," he said. "Premaitha's plan is to take early stage discoveries and translate them into clinically useful diagnostic products that can be widely used to benefit human health."