Roche buys 'su­per­bug' di­ag­nos­tics firm for up to $425 mil­lion

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

ZURICH: Roche is buy­ing U.S. di­ag­nos­tics firm GeneWEAVE Bio­Sciences for up to $425 mil­lion, ex­pand­ing the Swiss group's com­mit­ment to fight­ing so-called "su­per­bugs" as the threat from dru­gre­sis­tant mi­crobes grows. Roche said on Thurs­day it would pay share­hold­ers in the pri­vately held Cal­i­for­nian com­pany $190 mil­lion up­front and up to a fur­ther $235 mil­lion depend­ing on the fu­ture suc­cess of its prod­ucts.

The deal gives Roche ac­cess to GeneWEAVE's "Smar­ti­cles" tech­nol­ogy, which al­lows for the rapid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of multi drug-re­sis­tant or­gan­isms di­rect from clin­i­cal sam­ples, with­out the need for tra­di­tional prepa­ra­tion pro­cesses. Bet­ter test­ing is seen as cen­tral to fight­ing drug-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria. It should al­low doc­tors to make faster and more ac­cu­rate di­ag­noses and give pa­tients the ap­pro­pri­ate drug to kill their par­tic­u­lar in­fec­tion.

Many an­tibi­otics used to­day are broad spec­trum prod­ucts, which can kill a wide range of bugs but are also re­spon­si­ble for breed­ing re­sis­tance be­cause they dam­age gut flora, cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment for new in­fec­tions to flour­ish.

Roche has been build­ing up its pres­ence in an­tibac­te­rial re­search since buy­ing Switzer­land's Polyphor, a devel­oper of new medicines for re­sis­tant bac­te­ria, in Novem­ber 2013. Although Roche pi­o­neered some of the more mod­ern an­tibi­otics, like many large drug­mak­ers it wound down its re­search at the end of the 1990s, given the poor re­turns in the field com­pared to other ther­apy ar­eas such as can­cer.

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