Roche buys German cancer diagnostics firm

Roche has signed an agreement to acquire mtm laboratories, a privately-held German in vitro diagnostics company which specialises in  early detection of cervical cancer.

Under the terms of the deal, the Swiss major will pay shareholders in the Heidelberg-based group an upfront payment of around 130 million euros, plus an extra 60 million euros “upon reaching performance-related milestones”. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks.

mtm’s tests are based on the p16 biomarker and have been developed for the identification and diagnosis of pre-cancerous cervical lesions. One of its kits is already approved in Europe to identify over-expression of p16 and Roche says this could aid in the classification of patients “into those with and without significant pre-cancer or cancer, reducing unnecessary biopsies and ensuring patients are treated appropriately”.

Daniel O’Day, chief operating officer at Roche Diagnostics, noted that mtm products “are highly complementary” to the firm’s Cobas human papilloma virus (HPV) assay for cervical cancer screening, which was launched in the USA in April of this year. As a result of the acquisition, Roche “will have a comprehensive portfolio offering for cervical cancer testing from cytological screening to histological diagnosis” and the tests “may redefine the standard of care”.

Roche also noted that p16 has been reported to have “emerging clinical utility in other cancers”, including anogenital cancers, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.

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