Qiagen expands genetic offerings

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VENLO, The Netherlands—July 9, 2007—With a final price tag of $34 million in cash and stock, Qiagen announced it had completed its acquisition of eGene, improving its position in the genomics sample preparation market with a line of multichannel instruments, software, and consumables.
VENLO, The Netherlands—In a strategic move that adds a valuable capillary sampling technology to its arsenal, Qiagen, a global provider of sample and assay technologies for life sciences research, recently signed a definitive merger agreement with Irvine, Calif.-based eGene Inc. Under the agreement, the early-stage company—which has developed and is commercializing a patented sample separation and analysis technology based on capillary electrophoresis—will become a fully owned subsidiary of Qiagen North American Holdings Inc.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2007, subject to the regulatory and stockholder approvals and customary closing conditions.

What attracted Qiagen to eGene is the company's multichannel sample separation and analysis technology for nucleic acids that includes what Dr. Solveigh Karola Maehler, Qiagen's director of investor relations, calls "a robust and affordable instrument and analytic software package." More specifically, the HDA-GT12 Genetic Analyzer is a multi-capillary system that reportedly incorporates many capabilities into one easy-to-use platform, integrating automatic sample loading, separation, and data analysis. Also, the eGene acquisition brings in a selection of consumable cartridges designed for specific high-value applications in the molecular diagnostic and research markets.
And, from a strictly dollars-and-cents perspective, the acquisition is expected to add revenues of approximately $2 million in the second half of 2007 with no material change to Qiagen's expected margins, Maehler reports.

"With the eGene system, we are adding a consumable and instrument line which provides quality control capabilities following the use of sample technologies as well as a readout system for our assay technologies in one platform," says Peer M. Schatz, Qiagen's CEO. The combination of multiplex fluorescence detection designs with solid-state light sources and micro-optical collectors provides an advantage over conventional gel-based sample separation technologies, he says, and "The eGene system permits a new dimension of ease of use and automation, freeing up the researcher's time for more important endeavors."
Schatz predicts that eGene's products will both "leverage and seamlessly combine" with Qiagen's sample and assay technologies to create novel molecular diagnostics solutions for customers in preclinical and clinical research, applied testing and molecular diagnostics.

According to Qiagen, the HDA system significantly improves workflow and increases productivity of medium- to high-throughput laboratories in part because lab technicians no longer have to pour and wait for slab gels to solidify or load each nucleic acid sample into the gel individually. With the HDA system, the technician simply loads a 96-well plate containing the samples, sets the software specification and then "walks away while the instrument automatically loads and processes the samples." At the end of the experiment, the technician can access a graphic representation of the collected digital data, giving information of the DNA fragments with a separation in high resolution quality. u

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