Beckman Coulter Buys Out Royalty Obligation for Preeclampsia Markers
Beckman Coulter, Inc. (NYSE:BEC) announced today that it signed an agreement to buy out its U.S. royalty obligation to Nephromics LLC, a Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based company focused on women’s health. The license is for tests related to the detection, monitoring and risk assessment of preeclampsia, a leading cause of maternal death. In addition, Beckman Coulter obtained rights to acquire the worldwide diagnostics assets of Nephromics.
“Currently, there are no specific in vitro diagnostic tests for preeclampsia, even though the disease threatens the lives of thousands of women and their babies, and places a significant burden on healthcare systems worldwide,” said Mike Whelan, vice president of Beckman Coulter’s High Sensitivity Testing Business Group. “We expect that, once we complete our development program, these tests will help improve the outcomes of at-risk pregnancies. It is a powerful example of our commitment to provide clinical laboratories with the tools that improve patient health and reduce the cost of care. Our expectations for diagnostic testing related to maternal and fetal well-being leads us to believe that buying out our U.S. royalty obligation will create substantial value for our shareholders.”
Beckman Coulter has initiated the clinical trial phase of its test development program. The new tests, expected to be useful as an aid in helping physicians diagnose preeclampsia, are being developed for use on the company’s family of UniCel® DxI and Access® immunoassay systems, as well as UniCel DxCi chemistry-immunoassay work cells. The company plans to begin offering the tests by the end of 2009.
Preeclampsia, often characterized by hypertension and protein in the urine, occurs in up to 10 percent of all pregnancies in the developed world. During preeclampsia, the child is at risk from reduced placental blood circulation and function. The condition may result in premature birth, low birth weight and respiratory distress syndrome. For the mother, preeclampsia can mean seizures, brain, liver or other organ damage, even death. According to the World Health Organization, in the United States alone, preeclampsia is responsible for 18 percent of all maternal deaths, 80,000 premature births and numerous neonatal complications, and costs more than $7 billion in healthcare costs annually. With early detection, it may be possible to provide treatment to prevent serious complications.
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