QIAGEN to acquire stake in Alacris, gaining access to biomarker pipeline for use in personalized healthcare assays
- Strategic investment strengthens QIAGEN's leadership in personalized healthcare
- Alacris modeling system generates individual treatment recommendations based on analysis of whole genome sequencing data and other information
- QIAGEN to gain exclusive option rights to all biomarkers identified by Alacris
Germantown, MD., and Hilden, Germany, January 11, 2011 - QIAGEN (NASDAQ: QGEN; Frankfurt, Prime Standard: QIA) has signed an agreement for the acquisition of a strategic stake in Alacris Theranostics GmbH, a German start-up company using novel technologies to develop individualized cancer treatment strategies based upon a patient's genomic profile, and for the acquisition of an exclusive option to access all biomarkers emerging from this discovery program.
Alacris, founded by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPI-MG) in Berlin and Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, USA, uses a proprietary modeling system developed at MPI-MG and exclusively licensed to Alacris Theranostics, to analyze clinical sample data based on next-generation and other whole genome sequencing technologies.
This system, called ModCellTM, addresses a critical bottleneck in the development of personalized healthcare solutions. It allows users to identify and select from vast amounts of genetic data such markers that can prove useful to guide treatment decisions for patients. The technology can also be used to create marker subsets to stratify potential patient populations for R&D trials involving medicines in clinical development. These marker selections can be formatted into real-time PCR-based assays that QIAGEN can commercialize within its pharmaceutical development assay portfolio or its therascreen molecular diagnostics portfolio for use on its new QIAsymphony RGQ platform.
The collaboration brings together the global leadership of QIAGEN in developing molecular diagnostic and testing solutions in pharmaceutical development and personalized healthcare with Alacris' genomic data generation and mining capabilities and preferential access to large and well-characterized clinical sample sets.
"The genome-driven approach of Alacris complements our strategy very well since it facilitates a clinically relevant selection of molecular targets from vast amounts of genetic and clinical data. QIAGEN intends to develop such molecular targets into assays for our QIAsymphony platform to personalize treatments and improve outcomes for patients," said Peer Schatz, Chief Executive Officer of QIAGEN. "Our strategic investment in Alacris expands QIAGEN's existing broad biomarker discovery and validation initiatives and is designed to expand our QIAsymphony-based personalized healthcare and pharma development assay portfolio."
"We are very pleased about this collaboration. With QIAGEN, we have not only engaged a financially strong investor but also a leader in personalized healthcare as our partner," said Prof. Dr. Hans Lehrach, one of the founders of Alacris Theranostics GmbH and a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. "QIAGEN has rich experience and know-how in the commercialization of innovative life science and diagnostic technologies, which will help us to commercialize this novel approach to treating diseases such as cancer in the future."
QIAGEN is currently active in more than 20 projects to develop companion diagnostics with a broad range of major pharmaceutical companies based upon molecular biomarkers. QIAGEN is also active in many collaborations for the discovery and validation of biomarkers for the development of future diagnostics and therapeutics, which have been greatly enhanced by the acquisition of SABiosciences in 2009.
Biomarkers are molecules such as nucleic acids or proteins that are indicative for particular cell processes, biochemical metabolic pathways or receptors on the cell surface. Providing descriptions for individual patient profiles as well as for emergence and progress of diseases, biomarkers play an increasingly important role in diagnostics and the development of new pharmaceutical agents. Experts estimate the overall market volume for biomarkers will be approximately $21 billion by 2012.
The genome-based approach opens new perspectives for personalized cancer treatments as it enables the reliable assessment of treatment outcomes with various combinations of drugs by not only detecting mutations in individual genes but by analyzing the entire mutation spectrum of all genes involved in the disease.
Initial tests of this method collaboratively conducted under the international research project Treat 1000 have generated promising results. The continuous decline in sequencing costs for marker discovery and the wider dissemination of PCR-based assay technologies on one hand, and rising healthcare expenditures on the other hand, are additional factors that prompted Alacris to develop and commercialize this approach.
Terms of the agreement
QIAGEN will acquire a minority stake in Alacris Theranostics GmbH, and an exclusive option for access to all biomarkers that are discovered. Alacris will participate in commercialization of these biomarkers through royalty fees. Financial details of the agreement, which is subject to closing requirements as approval of Alacris' shareholders, were not disclosed.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated bio-molecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 sample and assay products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the digene HPV Test, which is regarded as a "gold standard" in testing for high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, as well as a broad suite of solutions for infectious disease testing and companion diagnostics. QIAGEN employs nearly 3,600 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at http://www.qiagen.com/.
Alacris Theranostics GmbH, a Berlin company, is a pioneer in the field of deep sequencing based therapy guidance, clinical trial stratification, and biomarker identification. Deep sequencing is coupled with analysis via a proprietary systems biology technology developed at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and exclusively licensed to Alacris. The company uses its technology platform to identify the right therapy for a specific genotype - .i.e., patient - and also to identify the right genotypes for a therapy - i.e., clinical trial stratification. The latter of the two applications leads to the identification of a companion diagnostic or biomarker set for that therapy. Alacris currently markets its therapy guidance to leading cancer clinics and intends to also make this technology directly available to patients in the near future. The company makes its clinical trial stratification technology available to leading pharmaceutical companies in order to help them reduce the cost of bringing their oncology drugs to market and to increase the likelihood of a successful approval.
Certain of the statements contained in this news release may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. To the extent that any of the statements contained herein relating to QIAGEN's products, markets, strategy or operating results are forward-looking, such statements are based on current expectations that involve a number of uncertainties and risks. Such uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to, risks associated with management of growth and international operations (including the effects of currency fluctuations and risks of dependency on logistics), variability of operating results, the commercial development of the applied testing markets, clinical research markets and proteomics markets, nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostics market, and genetic vaccination and gene therapy markets, competition, rapid or unexpected changes in technologies, fluctuations in demand for QIAGEN's, products (including fluctuations due to the level and timing of customers' funding, budgets, and other factors), our ability to obtain regulatory approval of our infectious disease panels, difficulties in successfully adapting QIAGEN's products to integrated solutions and producing such products, the ability of QIAGEN to identify and develop new products and to differentiate its products from competitors' products, market acceptance of QIAGEN's new products and the integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, refer to the discussions in reports that QIAGEN has filed with, or furnished to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).