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EKF Establishes MDx Subsidiary, Buys Cancer Dx Company 360 Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – UK-based point of care diagnostics firm EKF Diagnostics Holdings today announced it has formed a new firm to focus on molecular and companion diagnostics.

To support the creation of the new subsidiary called EKF Molecular Diagnostics, EKF also said that it has acquired cancer diagnostics company 360 Genomics for up to £9.6 million ($14.5 million).

EKF Molecular will allow customers in the pharmaceutical, academic, and diagnostics spaces access to a "quicker, less expensive, cleaner and automatable" platform for DNA extraction through its license with Arcis Biotechnology Holdings, EKF said.

Combined with technology from 360 Genomics, EKF Molecular aims "to achieve a leading position in the companion diagnostics market, particularly within clinical trials incorporation gene mutation analysis," according to EKF.

360 Genomics, headquartered in Oxford, UK, develops companion diagnostics for cancer treatments. Its technology, called PointMan, uses PCR methods to detect DNA mutations. PointMan can detect 1 mutant gene in 100,000 normal genes, compared to other PCR methods that detect 1 mutant gene in 100 normal genes, EKF said, enabling the use of smaller biological samples and the multiplexing of mutations in a single test.

The technology is currently used on tumor samples "and is showing great potential in enabling these analyses from a peripheral sample such as blood," EKF said.

The terms of its buy of 360 Genomics calls for an initial consideration of £1.6 million through the issue of more than 5.6 million shares of new shares of EKF stock at a price of 28.32 pence per share. The deal also calls for additional consideration payments of up to £8 million in cash, payable as a percentage of the portion of net aggregate revenues of 360 Genomics products in excess of £8 million through Dec. 31, 2019.

For Fiscal Year 2012, ended July 31, 2012, 360 Genomics recorded a loss before tax of £20,000. Gross assets as of the end of FY 2012 were also £20,000.

EKF purchased 360 Genomics from Oxitec, Guoliang Fu, H20 Venture Partners, Bruce Savage, and Benjamin Cobb.

360 is developing BRAF and KRAS DNA enrichment products based on PointMan, which are anticipated to become available during the summer. Other cancer mutation kits are expected to launch later this year, EKF said.

Andrew Webb is the CEO of EKF Molecular and joins the company from Qiagen, where he established and headed that firm's global market development for the personalized healthcare business. Webb was previously executive director at DxS, which Qiagen acquired in 2009.

"This acquisition, and the establishment of EKF Molecular, demonstrates our intent to rapidly address the molecular and companion diagnostics market, which we believe is an area of future potential growth," EKF CEO Julian Baines said in a statement.

"The advancement of companion diagnostics, where we intend to be at the forefront, is a situation where everyone wins: patients get better diagnosis which leads to better treatments and survival rates; doctors see increased patient safety and can make better informed decisions about treatments; healthcare providers and insurance companies will see better patient outcomes for reduced costs; and pharmaceutical companies will be able to gain easier regulatory approval and a quicker time to market for their drugs," Baines added.

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