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Illumina strengthens reproductive health segment with acquisition of Verinata Health

Monday, January 7, 2013

Illumina, a developer, manufacturer and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Verinata Health, a provider of non-invasive tests for the early identification of fetal chromosomal abnormalities, for consideration of $350 million, plus up to $100 million in milestone payments through 2015.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Illumina will have access to Verinata’s verifi prenatal test, the broadest non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) currently available for high-risk pregnancies, and to Verinata’s intellectual property portfolio in the non-invasive prenatal testing.

“This agreement with Verinata demonstrates Illumina’s commitment to developing innovative diagnostic solutions and providing our partners with the most advanced technologies for improved patient care,” said Jay Flatley, president and CEO of Illumina. “Building on the recent acquisition of BlueGnome and our expertise in next-generation sequencing, this announcement further establishes Illumina as a leader in reproductive health.”

Available through a physician, the verifi test analyzes cell-free fetal DNA naturally found in a pregnant woman’s blood to look for missing or extra copies of chromosomes (aneuploidies). Specifically, the test detects Down syndrome (trisomy 21 or T21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18 or T18) and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13 or T13). It is the first non-invasive prenatal test that offers the option to include evaluation of sex chromosome aneuploidies, such as Turner syndrome (Monosomy X), Triple X (XXX), Klinefelter syndrome (XXY) and Jacobs syndrome (XYY)—the most common fetal sex chromosome abnormalities.

“Together, Illumina and Verinata are well-suited to drive the adoption of the non-invasive prenatal testing market. With approximately 500,000 high-risk pregnancies annually in the U.S. and an estimated four million pregnancies in total, there is a clear need for such tests,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bird, executive chairman and CEO of Verinata Health. “Given the recent American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine (SMFM) joint opinion that recommended cell–free DNA prenatal testing as a first or second trimester option for women at increased risk of aneuploidy, we believe more physicians will be adopting NIPT.”

The verifi test will continue to be offered through Verinata’s CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited laboratory, which will continue to act as a reference laboratory to gather some of the necessary clinical data for future regulatory submissions.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as financial advisor to Illumina, and Covington & Burling acted as legal counsel.

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