Bio-Techne closes Exosome Diagnostics site at IZB

Dr. Mikkel Noerholm © IZB

Bio-Techne had bought Exosome in 2018 for up to $575 million. Now the start-up, which offers non-invasive tests for detecting tumor diseases based on the company's proprietary platform for analyzing exosomes from body fluids, has to close.

Headquartered in Waltham near Boston, USA, Exosome Diagnostics established its European branch in the Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology (IZB) in Martinsried in 2012, which was prompted on the one hand by the close proximity to the investor FORBION and on the other hand by the "Leading-Edge Cluster Program Personalized Medicine", which was coordinated as a Munich consortium by BioM (2010-2015). Mikkel Noerholm, Ph.D., built up the start-up in Munich as Vice President Product Development since 2010.

Prostate Diagnostic Test Convinced Bio-Techne

The goal was to develop diagnostic tests that would spare cancer patients the stressful procedure of a biopsy - with success: Using body fluids such as blood, urine, spinal fluid or cerebrospinal fluid, it is now possible to detect tumor diseases with the test from Exosome Diagnostics. The ExoDx Prostate IntelliScore (EPI) is the world's first diagnostic test in clinical practice to use biomarkers derived from exosomes and extracellular vesicles. This test can help decide whether to perform a biopsy in patients with suspected prostate cancer with a PSA in the gray zone (2-10 ng/ml).

The process also convinced the U.S. company Bio-Techne, which offers 500,000 products in the fields of life sciences and clinical diagnostics. Thus, in June 2018, Bio-Techne acquired Exosome Diagnostics for USD 250 million. Another $325 million was to be paid out if defined milestones are met.

Exosome moves to kit-based business model

In recent years, Exosome Diagnostics’ European laboratory at IZB developed technologies and products for global use that are now licensed to and distributed by Qiagen (exoEasy). In addition, the company recently completed development of the company’s first in vitro diagnostic (IVD) product – EPI-CE. The facility also houses an ISO 15189-accredited clinical laboratory that performs patient testing and, for example, quickly developed a PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Munich was the right location

“It’s sad, of course, that the site is closing and that the team, which has become like a family, has to part ways. But I am very proud of what we have achieved together over the last 10 years. Leading a biotech startup from the initial idea through development to launch of an in vitro diagnostic IVD product is a great achievement. Thus, Bio-Techne’s acquisition of the company for over $250 million is a tangible validation of the value the team has created. The decision to locate in Munich was a good one, and I am grateful for the warm welcome we have received, especially from the IZB and BioM, and for the great collaboration with scientists and clinicians in the area over the years. The location on the IZB campus is second to none and I hope to stay connected to the community in the future, whatever the next opportunity may bring,” says Mikkel Noerholm, Ph.D.

“IZB is proud to have supported Exosome Diagnostics on the successful path that ultimately led to the deal with Bio-Techne. We sincerely thank Mikkel Noerholm, Ph.D., who has been instrumental in shaping Exosome Diagnostics over the past years, and we are very reluctant to lose him. However, it has often been the case that our entrepreneurs return to the site with a new project,” said Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel, Managing Director IZB.