Konica Minolta buys US genetic test maker in $1B deal
- Japanese digital tech company Konica Minolta, best known for imaging prowess, said Thursday it would acquire the privately owned genetic test maker Ambry Genetics in a deal worth up to $1 billion.
- Per the deal, Ambry will receive $800 million upfront, paid jointly by Konica and the state-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Another $200 million is lined up as contingent payments based on financial metrics over the next two years.
- Ambry specializes in genetics-based screening, particularly in oncology and hereditary conditions. Recently, the company launched a genetic test for mutations in DNA mismatch repair genes — an area of new focus following U.S. approval of Merck's immunotherapy Keytruda for cancer with that specific signature, regardless of tumor origin.
Konica Minolta, which formed in 2003 as a result of a merger between the photographic companies Konica and Minolta, has been working to bolster its healthcare business. The acquisition of Ambry is Konica Minolta's largest to date and is aimed at building a foundation in precision medicine.
Konica sees Ambry's genetic testing chops as a complement to its own imaging technology. The deal will build on an immunostaining technology Konica developed in 2015 known as High-Sensitivity Tissue Testing (HSTT).
"The combination of these bioinformatics capabilities, alongside Konica Minolta’s HSTT technology, will create new opportunities for drug discovery and clinical trials not currently available," said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Global Healthcare at Konica Minolta.
Konica plans to first roll our Ambry's offerings alongside its own in Japan and then will expand to Europe. In addition to aforementioned test for DNA mismatch repair mutations, Amby has a range of screens for both inherited and non-inherited diseases in oncology, cardiology, pulmonology and neurology. Ambry also offers hereditary cancer panels and clinical exome sequencing.
The lofty goals of precision medicine, while often touted, remain unrealized. But recent progress in genetic screening, particularly in oncology, is bringing that vision closer to reality. The Food and Drug Administration's recent green light for Keytruda in DNA mismatch repair mutated-tumors, for example, marked the first tissue-agnostic approval to date.
While Ambry secured a major buyout, other diagnostic companies have had a tougher week. Massachusetts-based Interleukin Genetics, which has been struggling to generate revenue and pay off debts, saw an agreement to defer loan payments to its senior lender crumble. It's now evaluating its strategy, including a sale, and has cut over half of its already small workforce.
- Konica Minolta Press release
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