NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Invitae will acquire Singular Bio, a company specializing in single-molecule, cell-free DNA analysis that it is developing for non-invasive prenatal testing.
Under the definitive agreement, Invitae will acquire the privately held, San Francisco-based company for approximately $55 million, subject to certain adjustments. Most of the purchase price will be paid through the issuance of approximately 2.5 million shares of Invitae common stock with the balance of around $5.7 million to be paid in cash, though the precise mix of stock and cash will be determined at closing of the merger, according to Invitae.
Invitae will also grant Singular employees that continue with the company up to $90 million in stock awards that will vest upon their continued work and certain milestones. Singular Bio had an estimated cash balance of approximately $5 million at closing.
In recent years, Invitae has been growing its footprint in the prenatal genetic testing space through acquisitions. In 2017, Invitae obtained carrier screening capabilities through its acquisition of Good Start Genetics and invasive diagnostic prenatal testing capabilities from its 2017 acquisition of CombiMatrix.
The decision to acquire Singular aligns with Invitae's efforts to specifically push into the profitable and rapidly growing NIPT space. Last year, approximately 1.2 million tests were conducted in the US, a number that is expected to grow by as much as 20 percent annually through 2020, according to DeciBio Consulting, a Los Angeles-based firm that specializes in precision medicine.
Invitae earlier this year introduced its NIPT services and announced reduced patient-pay pricing of $99. "Historically, these tests have been expensive, and therefore offered only to women in certain elevated risk groups," the company said in a statement. "By investing in technologies, including those developed by Singular Bio, Invitae is driving down the cost of testing to increase the number of women who can benefit from the use of NIPS testing in early pregnancy."
The acquisition is expected to close in the coming weeks. Invitae expects the deal to be cash neutral at close and has adjusted estimates of its 2019 cash burn to factor in the acquisition.
Singular's platform can meet the needs of high-volume screening in very large populations, according to Invitae. Sean George, Invitae's CEO, said in a statement that he believes this technology may be applied in areas beyond NIPS and will further strengthen Invitae's ability "to bring genetic information into mainstream medical care."