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Qiagen to Gain Array-Based Breast Cancer Test through Ipsogen Buy


By Justin Petrone

Qiagen's planned acquisition of Ipsogen will provide the firm not only with a suite of CE-IVD marked PCR tests but an Affymetrix-manufactured microarray test that can be used to guide treatment for breast cancer patients.

Qiagen last week announced its intent to acquire molecular diagnostics firm Ipsogen for €70 million ($101 million). Qiagen is headquartered in Venlo, The Netherlands. Ipsogen is based in Marseille, France.

Qiagen said it has entered into exclusive negotiations with a group of Ipsogen shareholders to purchase about 47 percent of the company's outstanding shares currently held or controlled by company co-founders and board members. After the purchase agreement has been signed and the purchase is completed, Qiagen will begin to acquire all remaining shares of Ipsogen.

Founded in 1999, Ipsogen has developed PCR-based tests for blood cancers. It currently offers about 80 tests that are used as qualitative assays for the diagnosis of myeloproliferative diseases, and are increasingly being used as a quantitative technology in monitoring therapy.

Ipsogen also offers a microarray-based test called Genomic Grade, which the firm claims can improve tumor grading, long-term prognostication, and treatment decisions for women with early invasive hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

Genomic Grade has been available in the European Union since 2008 (BAN 6/3/2008). The diagnostic runs on Affymetrix’s GeneChip platform and measures the expression of 97 genes from biopsy samples to determine tumor grade — a consensus indicator of tumor proliferation, risk of metastasis, and response to chemotherapy.

According to the firm, patients with grade 1 tumors are often not treated with chemotherapy because of their relatively good prognosis, while patients with grade 3 tumors are often selected for chemotherapy. However, patients with intermediate, grade 2 tumors typically raise questions for clinicians with regards to treatment. Ipsogen claims that Genomic Grade can stratify grade 2 patients into either the grade 1 or grade 3 categories in 80 percent of cases.

Ipsogen said on its website that a PCR version of the test, adapted for use with formalin fixed,paraffin-embedded samples, is under development and should be available at the end of the year.

Company officials did not respond to e-mails seeking more information about the test.

In a statement, Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said that the acquisition of Ipsogen would further expand the firm's "global leadership in molecular assays for profiling and personalized healthcare."

Upon completion of the deal, Ipsogen's Marseilles facility would become a global center of excellence within Qiagen with a focus on leukemia and breast cancer. It would also become a center for the development and manufacturing of other molecular tests.

Ipsogen currently employs 70 people in France and the US. Its three managing co-founders — CEO Vincent Fert, COO Stéphane Debono, and Fabienne Hermitte, its R&D and regulatory affairs senior director — are expected to stay with Qiagen after the closing of the deal.

In 2010, Ipsogen reported net sales of €8.4 million, a 24 percent increase over 2008 revenues.

Qiagen said that it will fund the deal, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter, with existing cash.

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

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