Roche to acquire cervical cancer detection firm MTM Laboratories

Swiss global health-care company Roche Holding today unveiled plans to buy Germany's MTM Laboratories  for an initial €130 million ($184 million), to expand its specialisation in early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Privately-held MTM Laboratories, which will become part of Roche's subsidiary Ventana Medical Systems, is a leader in developing in vitro diagnostics with a focus on early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer, the largest early detection market in oncology.

MTM's proprietary test solutions are based on the p16 biomarker and have been developed for the identification and diagnosis of pre-cancerous cervical lesions.  p16, a gene involved in tumour suppression in the cell, is an established marker of the early oncogenic process leading to cancer.

The acquisition would bring to Roche two properietory MTM products - the CINtec Plus Cytology kit technology, approved for use in Europe to identify over-expression of p16 in cervical Pap test samples to detect pre-cancerous lesions and the CINtec Histology that detects over-expression of p16 and is used in conjunction with traditional staining techniques to aid in the identification of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and cervical carcinoma in biopsy samples.

"Pathologists increasingly rely on the rapid and successful identification and clinical validation of molecular markers associated with cervical cancer," said Daniel O'Day, COO Roche Diagnostics. "MTM products are highly complementary to Roche's innovative cobas Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) assay for cervical cancer screening, which was launched in the US 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 provide previously unavailable levels of medical value to gynecologists and patients worldwide," he added.