Acquisitions Expand U’s Influence

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The recent acquisitions of U-spinouts NPS Pharma and AvanSci Bio add to a growing list of U-spinouts that have been purchased by major corporations in recent years.

NPS Pharmaceuticals

NPS Pharmaceuticals

In January 2015, Irish drug company Shire acquired NPS Pharmaceuticals—a U-spinout that provides treatments for rare disorders—for an all-cash purchase of $5.2 billion, making this acquisition the largest in the U’s history.

NPS Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1986 by Hunter Jackson, Ph.D., executive chairman of U-spinout Navigen and Tom Parks, Ph.D., vice president for research and professor of neurobiology and anatomy. Both were research scientists in the U’s School of Medicine studying the biological effects of spider venom. Today, NPS Pharmaceuticals focuses on therapeutics aimed at improving the quality of life for patients with rare diseases such as Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS), Hypoparathyroidism, and Autosomal Dominant Hypocalcemia (ADH).

AvanSci Bio

AvanSci Bio

In December 2014, the world’s largest biotech company, Roche Diagnostics, acquired all products associated with U-spinout AvanSci Bio’s microdissection technologies. This transaction includes its Millisect™ instrument, a device for removing tissue samples from microscope slides, along with all of its associated instrumentation, software, and consumable resources.

Katherine Geiersbach, M.D., assistant professor of pathology, developed the original technology behind Millisect™ at the U. While working in molecular oncology, Geiersbach became frustrated by the need for a device that could be more precise than scraping slides by hand. With applications in clinical and research pathology as well as histology laboratories, the technology’s primary use is to bolster precision in genetic testing for cancer mutations.

Expanded Impact

“These acquisitions, along with BioMérieux’s $450 million purchase of U-spinout BioFire (formerly Idaho Technology) in 2013, demonstrate the growing influence and impact the University’s 265+ spinouts are having in the market,” states Parks. “The University is creating technologies and companies that are generating interest from some of the largest businesses in the world.”

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