A double gain: Epidauros acquisition will boost both of Clinical Data’s genomics divisions

Clinical Data Inc. in late August announced that it had acquired privately held Epidauros Biotechnologie AG of Bernried, Germany, in a cash transaction valued at 8.75 million Euros—or approximately $11.84 million.

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NEWTON, Mass.—ClinicalData Inc. in late August announced that it had acquired privately heldEpidauros Biotechnologie AG of Bernried, Germany,in a cash transaction valued at 8.75 million Euros—or approximately $11.84million. The acquisition bolsters both sides of Clinical Data'sofferings—genetic test/biomarker development and molecular/pharmacogenomicsservices—as Epidauros brings an established portfolio of proprietary geneticbiomarkers, expertise in genetic biomarker discovery, relationships withleading diagnostic companies, and a fast-growing pharmacogenomics servicesbusiness.

"Epidauros is an interesting parallel to what we werealready doing to expand in two distinct areas," says Drew Fromkin, presidentand CEO of Clinical Data. "Our Cogenics division provides DNA and RNA servicessuch as sequencing and gene expression and genotyping for pharma and biotechcompanies and also for research institutions, and Epidauros has a strongreputation in that space in Europe. And then we've been putting a lot of effortinto our PGxHealth division to leverage intellectual property we've acquiredthrough Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, and now Epidauros, to get pharmacogenomicstests in the clinics to focus on drug response in individuals."

What is particularly exciting to Fromkin is intellectualproperty held by Epidauros in the area of genetic markers related to drugmetabolism and drug transport.

"They have a series of markers that are important to howdrugs move in and out of cells across the cell walls, which really affects drugactivity and disposal of a drug," Fromkin notes, "and this is critical forlooking at key areas like toxicity and side effects and response. Thisacquisition is good for growth on our services side, but strategicallyspeaking, the biggest value is on the intellectual property side, which willenhance our ability to improve existing tests and advance new tests into themarketplace as well as to interact with our own drug franchises."

The intellectual property portfolio acquired by ClinicalData in the transaction includes biomarkers in genes relating to prominent drugtransporters such as MDR1, OCT1, MRP1, and important cytochrome P450drug-metabolizing genes, such as CYP2B6 and CYP2D6 . MDR1 encodes P-glycoprotein, a key protein involved in drugtransport that is known to modulate drug disposition. In addition, the genesCYP2B6, OCT1 and MRP1 are implicated in the absorption, distribution andmetabolism of many drugs that span a variety of therapeutic classes andindications, and are likely to be important in both response and safetyprofiles.

Epidauros will provide Clinical Data with additionalscientific expertise, biotechnology partnering capabilities and a deepunderstanding of European clinical markets, Fromkin adds. He expects thecapabilities of Epidauros' laboratories to complement those of Clinical Dataand "to contribute a strong local presence in the important German market.  With our operations in the U.K.and France,this transaction provides Clinical Data with laboratories in three top Europeanmarkets."

To further advance the combined abilities of the twocompanies and to expand Clinical Data's clinical testing and targetedtherapeutics programs, Dr. Michael Lutz, the current CEO of Epidauros, hasagreed to join PGxHealth as the senior vice president of pharmacogeneticpartnerships.

"We can now further leverage Epidauros' and Cogenics'support of pharmaceutical trials with our leading pharmaceutical clients," Lutzsays. "Together, the companies have supported more than 1,000 clinical trialsover the past several years. Moreover, the combination of Clinical Data's andour expertise and intellectual property will greatly enhance the collectiveability of the companies to develop companion diagnostics to guide drugdevelopment and prescribing."

At this point, Fromkindoesn't expect to be making any other changes to the staffing at Epidauros,which he says has "just north of 30 people." Instead, his focus is on ensuringa smooth integration with the existing Clinical Data organizational structure.

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