Promising diagnosis for success

As part of a strategic agreement, bioMérieux purchases $5 million equity stake in Knome

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Knome, a human genomics company focused onproviding secure, state-of-the-art sequencing and analysis solutions, announcedin late April a strategic agreement with Marcy l'Etoile, France-based invitro diagnostics company bioMérieux tocollaborate in the development of next-generation, sequence-based invitro diagnostics.
Under the agreement, bioMérieux will have exclusive rightsto license Knome's proprietary genome analysis platform for use in the invitro diagnostics market, while Knome willgain access to bioMérieux's intellectual property in DNA extraction and sample preparation.
In addition, the deal also has bioMérieux purchasing a $5million equity stake in Knome.
"We are living at a time of extraordinary technologicalinnovation in genetics. Medicine 2.0 is literally being written before oureyes," said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of bioMérieux, in a news release announcingthe deal. "We are very excited to be working with Knome—their expertise inhuman genome analytics combined with our unique knowledge of in vitro diagnostics will allow us to create the diagnostictools of tomorrow."
"Knome understands the importance of building informativesoftware tools to convey genomic insights to researchers, families andultimately clinicians," Knome CEO Jorge Conde tells ddn. "By developing robust and intuitive applicationsfor interpreting genome data, Knome is ideally suited to work with bioMérieuxto develop the next generation of sequence-based diagnostics."
He continues by noting that "bioMérieux is a global leaderin the field of in vitro diagnostics andis seeking ways to integrate new technologies into the development of noveldiagnostics. Looking to collaborate in the field of genomic sequencing, Knomestood out as a company specializing in genome analysis. It also helped thatboth companies are located within a few blocks from each other in Cambridge."
This deal marks the first time that a company has taken anequity stake in Knome, Conde says.
"Up until the bioMérieux investment, Knome had been fundedentirely by private investors," he notes. "This agreement with bioMérieux fitsdirectly in line with the long term goals of the company—Knome aims to becomethe premier genetic interpretation company. The applications for DNA-basedanalysis are wide-ranging, from research to clinical medicine, and it will bedifficult for us to commercially pursue each opportunity. As such, we have beenseeking to partner with world-class companies to jointly develop thenext-generation of DNA-based analysis tools. As a world leader in the field of invitro diagnostics, bioMérieux will be anideal partner for Knome as they develop the next generation of diagnostics."
Large-scale genome sequencing has not yet been applied to invitro diagnostics, Conde says, calling the collaborationbetween bioMérieux and Knome "a first" in this regard. "But there is a growingbody of evidence that demonstrates the reliability of the information procuredfrom sequencing," he adds. "This technology will lead to more unique genesequences that can potentially lead to more customized patient therapies. Inthe future, this will enable medicine to move away from a protocol basedtreatment to more customized/personal therapy—essentially ushering in the eraof personalized medicine."
Multiplex DNA sequencing for molecular diagnosticsdevelopment is part of bioMérieux's 2015 strategic road map unveiled on March8, the companies note, and bioMérieux intends to develop next-generation cancerand infectious disease diagnostics using Knome's proprietary sequence analysistechnology and bioinformatic tools. The bioMérieux team will be led bybioMérieux's recently appointed chief technology officer, Alain Pluquet.
The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Inconnection with the purchase, bioMérieux has the right to designate onedirector for election to the Knome board. This seat will initially be held byBancel.
Boasting more than a century of expertise in infectiousdisease management and "mastery of the three core technologies required fordeveloping in vitro diagnostics"—reagents,instruments and software—bioMérieux's sees itself as very well-placed fordevelopment of next-generation diagnostics, and the company notes that itinvests 12 percent to 13 percent of its sales into research and development,which company officials claim is the highest percentage of any other invitro diagnostics company.

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