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Fluidigm, Novartis End Pact Aimed at Non-invasive Fetal Diagnostic Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Fluidigm today announced its collaboration with Novartis to develop a non-invasive fetal diagnostic test has ended.

The collaboration ended on May 1, when Novartis chose not to exercise an option to exclusively license Fluidigm's digital PCR technology. Fluidgm added that it successfully achieved all of its technical feasibility milestones in the first phase of the collaboration and received all milestone payments.

The firms were working together to develop a microfluidic system with an initial focus on developing non-invasive prenatal diagnostics for fetal aneuploidies.

Under the terms of the deal, reached in May 2010 and amended last year, Fluidigm granted Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics an exclusive option to its digital PCR technology in specific areas of prenatal healthcare and diagnostics. The agreement prohibited Fluidigm from selling its products or services in those fields except for some cases of research applications.

Among the terms of the original deal was a $3 million milestone payment from Novartis to Fluidigm, which was increased to $3.3 million last year. Novartis also would have paid the South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm another $3 million upon exercise of its option to license Fluidigm's technology and upon Fluidigm satisfying a product development milestone, according to a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the original deal.

Fluidigm today said that a number of its customers expressed concerns that the deal between the firms limited their ability to do work in prenatal health and non-invasive prenatal diagnostics, and some customers chose other options as a result.

"With the termination of this agreement, highly valuable intellectual property rights in non-invasive prenatal diagnostics and digital PCR, which had been exclusively optioned under the agreement, now revert back to Fluidigm," Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm President and CEO, said in a statement. "We are open for business without restriction in all fields."

The termination of the Novartis deal allows Fluidigm to commercialize its 200,000-chambered digital PCR chip with associated instrumentation and software, it said.

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