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Qiagen to Expand QIASymphony RGQ Test Menu with Ipsogen Buy

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Qiagen said this week that it intends to acquire French molecular diagnostics firm Ipsogen for €70 million ($101 million) in a bid to further expand the test menu for its nearly year-old QIASymphony RGQ platform.

The acquisition will also bolster Qiagen's personalized medicine play through the addition of Ipsogen's extensive portfolio of personalized diagnostics and prognostics in the area of blood cancer, Qiagen said.

Under the proposed acquisition, Qiagen would purchase about 47 percent of Marseille, France-based Ipsogen'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 develops PCR-based tests for blood cancers, and currently offers about 80 tests grouped into four assay families: BCR-ABL (for chronic myeloid leukemia); JAK2 V617F (for various myeloproliferative diseases); PML-RARA (for promyelocytic leukemia); and a group of products for a range of rare forms of leukemia.

The tests are used as qualitative assays for diagnosing myeloproliferative diseases, and are increasingly being used to quantitatively monitor therapy, Qiagen said. Ipsogen also is developing the Genomic Grade Test, a multi-gene expression test directed at unmet diagnostic needs for women with early invasive hormone-receptor positive breast cancer.

Qiagen said that almost all of Ipsogen's assays are CE-IVD marked in Europe and can be used on Qiagen's Rotor-Gene Q real-time PCR system. Furthermore, they can be migrated onto Qiagen's QIAsymphony RGQ, the company's fully automated "sample-to-answer" platform.

Qiagen launched the QIASymphony RGQ last summer. The system comprises QIASymphony SP for sample preparation, QIASymphony AS for assay setup, and the Rotor-Gene Q real-time PCR thermocycler. Each module can be used individually or combined into a fully integrated system that incorporates all workflow steps from sample to detection (PCR Insider, 9/1/2010).

Qiagen already had a number of molecular tests in house that ran on the Rotor-Gene Q and which the company intended to port to the QIASymphony RGQ. However, Qiagen has also been looking outside the company to build out the QIASymphony RGQ test menu.

For instance, in October it struck an agreement with Abbott that served to strengthen both companies' in vitro diagnostic test menus. One term of that pact called for Abbott to provide Qiagen with a quantitative hepatitis C test for use on the QiaSymphony RGQ instrument and marketed under the Abbott brand in the US and Canada (PCR Insider, 10/14/10).

Also, in January Qiagen said it planned to acquire an undisclosed minority stake in Alacris Theranostics, giving it an exclusive option to license all biomarkers identified by Alacris' bioinformatics modeling system. Qiagen said that it intended to develop such biomarkers into assays to be run on the QIASymphony RGQ for use in molecular diagnostic and theranostic applications or biomedical research (PCR Insider, 1/13/11).

Like this week's proposed Ipsogen deal, the Alacris agreement also served to strengthen Qiagen's personalized medicine business.

"The acquisition of Ipsogen would further expand our global leadership in molecular assays for profiling and personalized healthcare," Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said in a statement this week.

"Ipsogen's molecular cancer profiling and personalized healthcare assays are clearly setting standards for the diagnosis and monitoring of many types of blood cancers as well as the selection and guidance of therapies," Schatz added. "This portfolio would further increase our leading position in profiling assays, as well as in companion diagnostics for personalized healthcare, helping to improve the treatment of many diseases and addressing unmet medical needs."

Qiagen said that it expected its acquisition of Ipsogen to be completed by the end of the third quarter, whereupon Ipsogen's Marseilles site is planned to become a global center of excellence within Qiagen focused on leukemia and breast cancer; as well as a center for developing and manufacturing other molecular tests.

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