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Integrated DNA Technologies absorbs ArcherDX tech, Boulder facility in Invitae firesale

BOULDER — A little more than two years after California genetics-testing company Invitae Corp. (NYSE: NVTA) bought ArcherDX Inc., a Boulder developer of genetic assays for cancer patients, for $1.4 billion, some of the company’s technology and its local manufacturing, research and development facility has again changed hands — this time for roughly one-thirtieth the price. 

Iowa-headquartered Integrated DNA Technologies Inc. completed a $48 million deal this week to absorb Archer’s trademarked next-generation sequencing research assays, also known as NGS or research-use only kitted solutions, and the company’s 55th Street operations.

IDT, which has facilities and people in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Europe and Asia,  also hopes to bring along as many as 100 Boulder workers formerly employed by ArcherDX and/or Invitae. 

“It’s incredible technology and talent represented in this transaction,” IDT president Demaris Mills told BizWest this week. The deal is expected to “help us to advance our position in this space of next-generation sequencing and identifying biomarkers that allow researchers and scientists to rapidly advance their oncology work.”

ArcherDX’s platform, which maintained its Archer branding even after the Invitae acquisition, specifically focuses on cancers and the growing group of drugs that aim to turn off genetic markers thought to fuel cancer growth once mutated.

The roughly two years since Invitae bought ArcherDX have been calamitous for the Bay Area biotech firm.

Invitae’s stock price has plummeted from a high of nearly $57 in October 2020 to less than $2 on Tuesday. The company, according to media reports, has laid off about 1,000 workers and co-founder Sean George stepped down from his chief executive position during a corporate restructuring, of which the offloading of Archer is an element. 

“This divestiture [of some Archer-developed technology and the Boulder plant] is part of Invitae’s portfolio optimization efforts and renewed strategic focus to achieve profitable growth in its core genetic testing business, fueling the pursuit of the significant market opportunities of its precision oncology laboratory-developed test services,” Invitae said in a news release this week. “This transaction is expected to add to Invitae’s cash position, contribute to the company’s commitment to reduce cash burn, and extend its cash runway.”

While Invitae has flailed, Mills said IDT has been in expansion mode.

“Next-gen sequencing has been a major growth driver for IDT,” she said. “So as we look at that continued growth, having that capacity here [in Boulder] — not only in the physical space of the operation itself, but also on the R&D side — is very attractive.” 

Because NGS represents a growth sector for the Iowa firm, there is “potential for expansion” in Boulder, Mills said. “What happens next will be dependent on the growth and pace of the market and the uptake of the products that we go out with.”

Regardless of whether IDT opts to boost its local presence, company leaders are thrilled to plant a flag in Boulder through a deal that has the potential to “really advance our own roadmap by years,” Mill said. 

“We’re excited about the site, and we’re really excited about the talent that’s here on the team and in the broader community,” she said. “For me, talent is everything. You grow through talent, and creating great technology is really all about talent. We see Boulder as being this central U.S. hub for a lot of [biotechnology] talent — and increasingly so.”

Source: BizWest