A pathway to the future

Active Motif acquires Genpathway for success in next era of next-gen sequencing

Lori Lesko
CARLSBAD, Calif.—After a year spent hammering out a deal toacquire significant technical know-how, a database of antibodies andbioinformatic capabilities, Active Motif has immersed San-Diego, Calif.-basedGenpathway Inc. into its own operations, thus preparing for its thrust into thenext era of next-generation sequencing. 
 
Active Motif, a leading provider of kits and reagents forthe study of epigenetic phenomena, announced on Dec. 2 the acquisition of nine-year-old Genpathway, a specialist in solutions for the genome-wide analysisof epigenetic events, including DNA methylation, histone modification andtranscriptional regulation.
 
Active Motif develops, manufactures and deliversepigenetics-based research tools to analyze nuclear function. Its customersinclude life scientists from academic and government institutions;biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies; hospitals and referencelaboratories.
 
"Genome-wide analysis using high-density microarrays ornext-gen sequencing has significantly broadened the ability of scientists tounderstand epigenetic events," says Joseph M. Fernandez, Active Motif's founderand CEO. "However, antibody selection, sample preparation and data analysis cancreate significant barriers to widespread scientific exploration, especiallywithin biomedical research."
 
That's where Genpathway comes, in with capabilities toremove all of these obstacles, Fernandez says. Genpathway describes itself asan early-stage pharmacogenomics company that provides specialized drug andbiomarker discovery services and develops novel diagnostic biomarkers thatpredict drug responses, enabling personalized treatments.
 
Before merging intoActive Motif, Genpathway applied its proprietary chromatin and methylated DNAimmunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) technology to understand generegulation and genetic pathways.
Genpathway's platform "has the capacity to develop andcommercialize a broad portfolio of clinically validated molecular diagnosticproducts and services that will enable the accurate selection of specific drugsto efficaciously treat individuals with cancer, immune disorders and otherserious diseases," according to its website.
 
Active Motif's goal is to "make cutting-edge researchaccessible to the wider life science community—and the combination of Genpathway'sexpertise in genome-wide analysis and Active Motif's extensive offerings in'off-the-shelf' epigenetic-specific tools means that we can now provide lifescientists of all capabilities with the most comprehensive portfolio ofcharacterized epigenetic products available today," Fernandez says.Theodore DeFrank, Active Motif's president, calls the deal anatural extension of the nearly 10 years of expertise the company has developedin the area of epigenetics.
 
Financial and other details were not disclosed.
 
"Active Motif acquired essentially all of the assets ofGenpathway; therefore, the former Genpathway only exists as a legal entity—notas a commercial entity," DeFrank explains.  "Active Motif acquired the rights to the Genpathway name, sothus, from a customer perspective, Genpathway is part of Active Motif."
 
Patrick Mallon, the former CEO of Genpathway, tells ddn that the acquisition should have come as a surpriseto no one, as both companies have been working toward this end over the pastyear.
 
"The opportunity arose during business developmentdiscussions," DeFrank says. "Active Motif and Genpathway have had variousdiscussions over the years exploring ways in which the two companies may beable to work together. Conversations held during the summer of 2010 led to amechanism in which we could merge the Genpathway Epigenetics service businesswith Active Motif's worldwide sales and marketing efforts." Plus, the timing was perfect, he adds.
 
"Genpathway's lease was expiring at the end of the year, soit was a simple decision to integrate all aspects of their business intoActive Motif's Carlsbad headquarters," DeFrank says.
 
"Given that Genpathway'sfacility was only 15 miles down the road, the relocation was quick andstraightforward."
The Genpathway employees responsible for performing theservices and interacting with customers have been retained in order to providethe continuity and quality of service the customers have come to expect, hesays.
 
The acquisition is a "perfect fit into Active Motif'sstrategic mission, which is dedicated to developing and delivering innovativecell biology-based research tools and biocomputing resources that helpresearchers worldwide in their quest to elucidate the function, regulation andinteractions of the genes and their encoded proteins," DeFrank says.
 
Active Motif, founded in 1999, is well recognized within theacademic market by life science researchers studying the underlying mechanismsinvolved in epigenetics, DeFrank says.
 
At the same time, Genpathway's servicebusiness is well regarded with the life science research groups.
The combined entity will leverage the technology and toolsto develop products and services more applicable to the target identificationand screening processes within the drug development process—as well developingassays for the molecular diagnostics market, he says.
 
"In the future, we aim to integrate many of Active Motif'sunique research tools within drug discovery and biomarker-related serviceofferings," DeFrank says.
 
Operating globally from its corporate headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.,and European headquarters in Rixensart, Belgium, Active Motif has a worldwidenetwork of sales and support offices as well as distributors in Europe, Japanand North America.
 

Lori Lesko

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