Analytik Jena will expand into the market for sepsis diagnostics by acquiring all assets of the bankrupt company SIRS-Lab, a developer of molecular diagnostic methods and testing systems. The price was not disclosed.

Analytik Jena is acquiring and integrating SIRS-Lab’s more than 50 patents and core team of 10 former employees, after concluding it wanted to continue the bankrupt company’s initial success in sepsis testing. Continuing that success would fit into Analytik Jena’s plans to focus more strongly on routine diagnostics, working more closely with hospital and clinical partners in the process, and expanding a company whose life-sciences unit has been built in recent years on generating revenue in the public healthcare sector.

“The aim is to identify life-threatening infections quickly and early,” Klaus Berka, CEO of Analytik Jena, said. “In recent years, SIRS-Lab has built up considerable competence in the field of sepsis analytics and has achieved initial successes. The results from a first application study are highly promising.”

SIRS-Lab developed the VYOO® molecular test, designed to apply the company’s LOOXSTER®, technology to detect bacteria, fungi, and genes associated with antibiotic resistances within seven hours – compared with standard methods of detecting pathogens that rely on blood cultures, which deliver results only after two or three days and only in 15% of all sepsis cases.

SIRS-Lab was awarded the central German innovation award in 2008, and a European molecular Diagnostics award a year later. In 2011, it won the European Union’s CE-mark for VYOO, enabling its clinical use in hospitals across the continent.

At the end of last year, the diagnostic successfully concluded a comprehensive clinical trial that involved recruitment of 1,000 intensive-care unit patients in 13 key medical centers across Germany. However, to launch the sepsis diagnostic to market, SIRS-Lab needed more money – shareholders differed on how much, leading to the dispute that forced the company into insolvency, with the salaries of all 30 SIRS-Lab employees secured through insolvency compensation payment.

SIRS-Lab filed for insolvency in December 2012. The District Court of Gera, Germany, appointed Rolf Rattunde of the law firm Leonhardt Rechtsanwälte Erfurt, as provisional insolvency administrator on January 7. “The first meetings with management and employees made me very confident to proceed with the company,” Rattunde said in a January 9 SIRS-Lab press release.

In addition to the sepsis test, SIRS-Lab was also developing a gene expression product (SIQNATURE®) to indicate the body’s immune response to an infection. A related test developed by SIRS-Lab is almost ready for the market. Analytik Jena provides instruments and products not only for life sciences, but in analytical measuring technology and optoelectronics as well.

SIRS-Lab was founded in 2000 as a spin-off of the Friedrich Schiller University at the Jena Sepsis Competence Center, with the aim of combating the high mortality rate associated with sepsis. Its founders included Prof. Konrad Reinhart, M.D., director of the Clinic for Anesthesiology and Intensive Therapy (KAI) at the University Hospital of Jena; Prof. Eberhard Straube, M.D., former director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the University of Jena; and Prof. Hanspeter Saluz, Ph.D., head of the cell and molecular biology department at Jena’s Hans-Knöll Institute.

Berka of Analaytik Jena said a key concern for his company was also keeping important expertise and research and development capacities in Jena: “We also see our commitment in a regional context.” 

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