This story originally ran on April 28.
Myriad Genetics said this week that it has signed a definite merger agreement to acquire protein-biomarker discovery firm Rules-Based Medicine for $80 million in cash.
Through the deal, which marks Myriad's entry into the proteomics space, the company will acquire RBM's biomarker discovery platform as well its pipeline of proprietary protein biomarker-based diagnostics. It will also gain access to new patient cohorts for diagnostic development.
RBM is best known for its biomarker discovery services, but, said Rebecca Chambers, Myriad's director of investor relations and corporate communications, "they have a number of diagnostics in the pipeline that we feel are quite interesting and that we are going to invest into to bring to market."
Specifically, Myriad is interested in eight diagnostics RBM has in development aimed at psychiatric disorders, inflammation, and infectious diseases, Chambers told ProteoMonitor.
"They're in various phases from discovery to clinical validation," she said, adding that two of the eight were "relatively close to commercial launch."
Following the October launch of its 51-biomarker PsyMap panel for research into psychiatric disorders, vice president of corporate development Sam LaBrie told ProteoMonitor that the company was conducting studies on the use of PsyMap for the differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, and hoped to launch tests for these two conditions sometime in 2011 (PM 11/12/2010).
In October, RBM also released VeriPsych, a laboratory-developed test measuring 51 protein and hormone biomarkers in blood intended to help confirm the diagnosis of recent onset schizophrenia.
Up to now, Myriad has focused its diagnostic offerings on DNA- and RNA-based tests, but, Chambers said, "if we really wanted to be a large player in the companion diagnostic and molecular diagnostic space, we felt it was necessary to have exposure to proteins. The background of Rules-Based Medicine completes that three-legged stool of the available types of biomarkers out there for us to discover and commercialize."
She acknowledged that commercialization of proteomics-based diagnostics has lagged behind that of gene-based tests, but said Myriad feels "that we have the commercial capabilities" to bring such tests to market.
The company has no specific plans to combine its genetic markers and RBM's protein markers into single diagnostics, Chambers said, but noted that "it definitely is a possibility." Myriad also said in a statement that the acquisition would provide it with "access to patient cohorts for new diagnostic development."
In addition to commercializing the proprietary diagnostics in RBM's development pipeline, Myriad plans to retain the company's biomarker discovery service, she said, noting that this business "helps fund the research being done on their proprietary pipeline" and establishes valuable relationships with the pharmaceutical companies that use RBM's platform for companion diagnostic discovery.
While companies including NextGen Sciences (PM 03/18/2011) and Olink Biosciences (PM 03/11/2011) have recently launched competing platforms, RBM is the leading player in the plasma biomarker discovery field, with more than 250 different proteins in its Human DiscoveryMAP product and a variety of other panels covering indications including various cancers as well as central nervous system, kidney, and cardiovascular diseases.
Privately held RBM had 2010 revenues of around $25 million and has approximately 160 employees. It will continue to operate out of its facilities in Austin, Texas, as a wholly owned subsidiary called Myriad RBM and will be focused on working with pharmaceutical partners in developing companion diagnostics.
Myriad said that it will pay for the acquisition with cash on hand. It has around $500 million in cash and cash equivalents and no debt.
Myriad expects to close the deal on or before May 31.
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