Roche to acquire prenatal tester for risks in down syndrome Ariosa Diagnostics

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche today said that it will acquire US-based Ariosa Diagnostics, a molecular diagnostics company that provides a prenatal test to assess the risk of Down Syndrome and other genetic abnormalities.

RocheRoche, based in Basel, did not reveal the financial terms of the deal.

San Jose, California-based Ariosa is a molecular diagnostics testing service provider that provides a highly targeted and accurate non-invasive prenatal testing service through their CLIA laboratory using cell-free DNA technology.

Ariosa's proprietary Harmony Prenatal Test is a blood test that is performed as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy. The test is designed to assess the risk of Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities. Specifically, the test assesses the risk of an extra chromosome in the fetus that can lead to severe genetic conditions.

Roche said that there are more than 200 million pregnancies annually worldwide and prenatal screening for Down syndrome has become common practice, in many countries.

''The acquisition of Ariosa is another example of Roche's commitment to advanced molecular diagnostics,'' said Roland Diggelmann, COO Roche Diagnostics Division. ''Circulating DNA has the promise of providing early diagnostic information through a simple blood test in many important segments including pregnancy, cancer and transplantation, aligning with our strategy in personalized healthcare and commitment to setting new standards of care.''

Roche is the world's largest biotech company, and specialises in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and neuroscience.

Roche is also the global leader in in-vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Twenty-four medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organisation Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and chemotherapy.

The company employs over 85,000 people worldwide, and posted sales of 46.8 billion Swiss francs last year.

It also owns Genentech, in the US, and a majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan.