It’s all about image

Progenics hopes to acquire EXINI and combine EXINI’s imaging analysis with its own prostate cancer imaging products

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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. & LUND, Sweden—In a move meant to boost its cancer imaging capabilities, Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. recently announced an offer to acquire EXINI Diagnostics AB through a public offer to EXINI’s shareholders. Progenics’ offer is to pay a total aggregate purchase price for all of EXINI’s equity of approximately $7 million.
The per-share that makes up that total represents a premium of 59 percent compared to the volume-weighted average price per EXINI share for the last 90 trading days prior to the offer, and a 93-percent premium compared to the closing price per share on Oct. 12, the last trading day before the announcement of the offer. Settlement of the offer is expected in mid-November, subject to certain closing conditions, including acceptance of the deal by more than 90 percent of the total number of EXINI shares and other customary conditions. A news release detailing the offer noted that, should the offer be accepted, “the envisaged integration between the companies is expected to generally have a limited effect on the employee relationships at EXINI as well as on the future businesses of both companies.”
EXINI is a developer and provider of advanced software for automated image analysis, and its technology combines artificial neural networks with expert medical knowledge and large databases. Its products offer increased accuracy and clinical efficiency and support visualization and quantification of the change of disease states in automated reports.
“This transaction will bring Progenics a talented imaging software development team and significantly advance our efforts to develop products with the potential to transform the way cancer is diagnosed, monitored and treated,” Mark Baker, CEO of Progenics, noted in a statement. “The EXINI team’s expertise in software design for imaging products will be very important as we begin to develop our imaging toolkit for prostate cancer based on our pipeline, and then, more broadly, seek to empower patients and physicians with information to help guide treatment decisions.”
Progenics is not the only one with a positive outlook on the offer, as EXINI’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that the company’s shareholders accept the deal. In addition, the estate of Bo Håkansson—EXINI’s largest shareholder, which holds approximately 30.74 percent of the total shares and voting rights in the company—has undertaken to accept the offer, subject to certain conditions.
In a press release issued in response to Progenics’ offer, EXINI stated that “The board notes that EXINI in recent years has conducted a comprehensive change of direction towards the biomarker area that has required a sustained effort. The board believes that the trend is likely to remain challenging for EXINI on its own to reach a sustainable breakthrough. A merger with Progenics is expected to offer EXINI the long-term commitment needed to establish a company in its chosen field of activity. Meanwhile, it is expected that EXINI can contribute with a key component to Progenics’ product portfolio in its efforts to fight prostate cancer.”
“The combination of Progenics’ imaging agents and EXINI’s analysis software has the potential to create a portfolio of innovative products which can provide both a more accurate picture of a patient’s cancer and a standardized analysis of the extent and severity of disease. We look forward to working with the team at Progenics to further expand the applications of our technology in prostate cancer and other indications,” said Magnus Aurell, EXINI’s managing director.
Progenics is focused on the development of agents for imaging prostate cancer, specifically ones that target the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). So far the company is advancing two imaging agents that target PSMA: 1404, which will enter Phase 3 later this year, and PYL, which was in-licensed from Johns Hopkins University, Baker tells DDNews. Baker says that this acquisition, should it go through, would not just secure EXINI’s expertise but would also “build our capabilities in Europe, which is so important in this field and where so many of the key experts do their work.” In particular, Lund, Sweden, where EXINI is headquartered, “has long been a center for the analysis and interpretation of medical images,” he adds.
“The EXINI company has a wonderful team of scientists and engineers who are quite adept at the analysis of images, so our plan is to marry their expertise and knowledge with our imaging agents, and our goal is to provide to men with prostate cancer and their family important information about their disease,” Baker remarks. “The image is a picture of their cancer, and we want to provide them with the kind of important information they need to decide which treatments they should undergo, or if perhaps they should initially not treat the cancer and instead follow it through active surveillance. The EXINI team has done this type of work with bone scans, and now they’re going to bring their expertise to our imaging agents 1404 and PYL.”
Baker says he definitely sees an increased interest in and need for imaging agents in cancer these days, commenting that “That’s what we hear from experts in the field, that they are looking for more and better ways to image prostate cancer. I think you see Progenics trying to take on that challenge that we received from the key leaders in the prostate cancer field … And this EXINI acquisition is showing us making an investment in a proven team that can bring their expertise to the analysis of these images.”

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