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Oncimmune Buys Protagen for £4.1M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Cancer diagnostics firm Oncimmune said today that it has acquired Protagen Diagnostics for up to £4.1 million ($5.5 million).

The final price is subject to performance milestones and will be paid in Oncimmune shares issued at 156p ($2.07) per share, which it said was a premium of 71 percent over its closing price on March 18, 2019.

Dortmund, Germany-based Protagen's main technology platform is its SeroTag biomarker discovery system, which uses human protein arrays to identify autoantibody markers to various conditions. Traditionally, the company has focused on autoimmune diseases and has recently moved into identification of markers for assessing the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies in patients.

Oncimmune, which is based in Nottingham, UK, said it plans to use Protagen's assets to further the development and commercialization of its EarlyCDT cancer diagnostics, which are similarly based on autoantibody measurements. The company has launched tests for the early detection of lung and liver cancer.

"The acquisition of Protagen will accelerate Oncimmune’s product discovery process, will grow our library of known and novel immunogenic proteins, and will underpin the group’s ability to deliver value through the development of complementary diagnostics, a key component of our three-year forward strategy," Adam Hill, Oncimmune's CEO, said in a statement.

According to the terms of the deal, Oncimmune will pay about 1.6 million shares, or about 62 percent of the maximum consideration, of its ordinary shares on the closing date. It will pay the remaining balance on certain milestones being met.

Qiagen is an investor in Protagen and will become an investor in Oncimmune following the acquisition. It will receive up to 862,179 shares to settle a convertible loan and accrued interest of €2.6 million ($3.0 million) made to Protagen.

Oncimmune said it expects to acquisition to be cash neutral within 12 months. In 2018, Protagen posted €600,000 in revenues and an operating loss of €1.9 million. It had net assets of €2.9 million as of Sept. 30, 2018.

Oncimmune said that it will retain Protagen's scientific team and the Dortmund lab, which will operate as its discovery research center. Oncimmune's Nottingham and Kansas, where its US CLIA lab is located, will be responsible for the group's product development, validation, and production.