Home Interviews Prolight‘s CEO: “Roche’s acquisition highlights interest in Point-of-Care” 

Prolight‘s CEO: “Roche’s acquisition highlights interest in Point-of-Care” 

Roche acquisition

Prolight‘s CEO: “Roche’s acquisition highlights interest in Point-of-Care” 

29 January, 2024

There is a high demand within healthcare for Point-of-Care systems. The field also attracts significant interest from leading diagnostics companies. This was recently demonstrated by Roche’s acquisition of LumiraDx’s Point-of-Care technology for USD 295 million. Ulf Bladin, CEO of Swedish POC company Prolight Diagnostics, comments on the acquisition and shares the company’s partnership ambitions in an interview with BioStock. 

Point-of-care systems (POC) are diagnostic tests that can be performed near the patient, e.g., in an ambulance, at a health centre, nursing home or emergency room. With POC analysis systems, there is no need to send the samples to a hospital laboratory and wait for several hours, or even days, to get receive test results. The analysis is instead carried out immediately after sampling and often provides quick results within a few minutes.  

Roche acquires LumiraDX POC technology

There is a clear demand in the market for user-friendly POC analysis systems. In addition, there is increasing interest among large companies to acquire and enter into partnerships with companies that develop new, innovative POC systems. 

A concrete example is Roche’s acquisition of LumiraDX’s POC technology, announced on December 29. LumiraDX is a London-based company that has developed a POC platform enabling various types of immunoassays. The company experienced a boost during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, sales figures declined as the demand for POC covid tests decreased. Now, Roche is taking over the company’s POC platform, which is approved for measuring hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the blood, among other applications. 

Roche will pay USD 295 million for the acquisition and up to USD 55 million for funding until the acquisition is completed, which is expected to take place in mid-2024.  

Great interest in point-of-care tests

However, this is not the only acquisition that has been made in the area in recent years.
In early 2023, French POC company Biosynex announced that it intends to acquire Chembio Diagnostics for USD 17.2 million to gain access to the company’s POC tests for infectious diseases. In 2021, Thermo Fisher Scientific acquired the POC company Mesa Biotech for USD 450 million. 

Also worth mentioning in this context is Abbott’s acquisition of Alere for USD 5.8 billion in 2016, a deal that made them take a leading position in the POC market.

The acquisitions show not only that the interest in POC testing has been there for a long time, but also that the interest is increasing. In addition, the overall global market for POC diagnostics is growing. According to Fortune Business Insights, the market is expected to grow from USD 45.85 billion in 2023 to USD 78.11 billion by 2030. 

Comments from Prolight Diagnostics’ CEO

A Swedish-based company that is also active in the POC area is Prolight Diagnostics. The company is developing a new POC analysis system, Psyros, which will initially be used for the diagnosis of myocardial infarction by measuring troponin in the blood. The platform can also be used for other clinical areas and multiplex, which means that it can test multiple biomarkers at the same time.

Currently, the company is carrying out the development and validation work required to launch the product on the global market. The company’s ambition is to introduce the product to the market in collaboration with a major partner that has a global marketing and sales organisation.  

Ulf Bladin, vd Prolight Diagnostics
Ulf Bladin, CEO Prolight Diagnostics

BioStock reached out to Prolight Diagnostics’ CEO Ulf Bladin to learn more about the company’s opportunities to enter into a partnership.

First and foremost, what is your comment on Roche’s acquisition of LumiraDX? 

– All deals are unique, but it is exciting to see a high willingness to pay for point-of-care diagnostic systems. With the increased demand for POC diagnostics in healthcare, bringing diagnostics closer to the patient with inherent opportunities for prevention and cost savings, I believe we may witness additional deals in the POC sector and increased interest from investors.  

»It is exciting to see a high willingness to pay for point-of-care diagnostic systems […] I believe we may witness additional deals in the POC sector and increased interest from investors«

– LumiraDX has a market-approved system, so they are further along than Prolight. However, our ground-breaking technology allows us to go even further. Unlike LumiraDX, our system is digital and can measure extremely low concentrations of biomarkers. For example, to be able to rule out a heart attack, the system must be able to measure very low levels of the biomarker troponin, which our POC system Psyros can do, but LumiraDX has not demonstrated.

– Furthermore, our test card can be manufactured at very low production costs, allowing us to offer a competitive price and provide rapid and accurate test results in a short time. All of this is desirable in most POC situations.  

– Another significant competitive advantage is our ability to measure in whole blood. We have demonstrated proof of performance in whole blood, meaning that without the need to separate cells from the sample, our system can detect individual molecules with equivalent performance in whole blood compared to plasma. We are not aware of any other digital platform for counting individual molecules that works in whole blood. The ability to measure in whole blood, without a cell separation step, reduces complexity and paves the way for an extremely competitive price point for our platform. 

How do you assess Prolight Diagnostics’ chances of entering into a successful commercial agreement? 

–  Given our unique digital POC technology, I have very high expectations. Our technology has a groundbreaking ability to quantify individual molecules at extremely low concentrations. We are starting by developing a test for the protein troponin for rapid and early detection or ruling out myocardial infarction. In the long run, our platform could lead to a paradigm shift in point-of-care testing for many other major clinical areas. This also means that we could potentially license out our technology for various fields. Beyond troponin, expansion into other cardiac biomarkers, such as BNP/Nt-pro-BNP and D-Dimer, is a natural first next step in development.

»In the long run, our platform could lead to a paradigm shift in point-of-care testing for many other major clinical areas. This also means that we could potentially license out our technology for various fields.«

How do you work with business development and partnership discussions?

– We participate in various events and fairs and then follow up on the discussions we have had on such occasions. As our ongoing discussions are regulated by confidentiality agreements, we cannot provide more detailed information than that there is a great interest in our unique and proprietary technology and low production costs.

Finally, what advantages does your point-of-care analysis system have that could generate interest from potential partners?  

– Our unique POC system can assist in providing rapid and accurate test results in acute, life-threatening conditions right when the patient is initially examined, instead of having to wait for analysis results from large hospital laboratories, as is the current practice. Thus, our ground-breaking point-of-care analysis system can contribute to quicker diagnoses and the initiation of appropriate treatment or ruling out conditions such as a heart attack. This, in turn, will reduce healthcare costs and improve patients’ quality of life.  

– The revolutionary technology behind our digital immunoassay also enables multiplexing, i.e., simultaneous testing of various biomarkers from a drop of blood, with high sensitivity and precision on a single test card in our portable, ultra-sensitive instrument. Last, but not least, we will be able to offer the market a highly competitive price. All of these factors generate significant interest from many potential partners, although decision-making processes have long lead times. 

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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