Leica Microsystems To Acquire Duke Eye-Imaging Spinoff Bioptigen

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Bioptigen, a medical device firm that developed and commercialized a non-invasive scanning technology for ophthalmic procedures, has caught the eye of a German diagnostics company now set to buy the startup.

Leica Microsystems has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Morrisville, NC-based Bioptigen. The companies disclosed no financial terms for the deal.

Bioptigen was founded in 2004 based on research from Duke University. The company developed hardware and software that employs a technology called optical coherence tomography. The company describes the technology as being similar to ultrasound, except that it uses light instead of sound. Bioptigen’s device uses low-power, near-infrared light to generate high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the eye. By detecting and monitoring changes in ocular tissue, Bioptigen says its devices can give insight into conditions such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Bioptigen initially received financial support from a $17,575 North Carolina Biotechnology Center business development loan in 2005. In 2014, the Biotech Center awarded the company a $458,000 strategic growth loan. The company has also been supported by a $1.5 million round of investment in 2011, as well as approximately $9 million in federal grants, according to the Biotech Center.

The FDA cleared a Bioptigen tabletop scanner in 2006. In 2012, the agency cleared a handheld version of Bioptigen’s device, called Envisu. The Bioptigen device, which is covered by 40 patents, also has regulatory clearance in Europe, Canada, and Australia.

From its operations near North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, Bioptigen manufactures and sells its scanners for clinical and research applications around the world. By joining Leica Microsystems, Bioptigen will become part of a global organization that is itself part of a larger conglomerate selling a range of medical, industrial, and commercial products. Leica Microsystems is one of the subsidiaries comprising the Life Sciences & Diagnostics division of Danaher (NYSE: DHR) a Washington, D.C. conglomerate built by acquisitions, including those of Molecular Devices and Beckman Coulter. The Life Sciences & Diagnostics segment accounted for $447 million of Danaher’s $2.3 billion in 2014 revenue.

Heinrich Dreyer, vice president of Leica Microsystems’ medical division, said in a prepared statement that Bioptigen’s technology will be integrated into Leica Microsystems’ own surgical microscopes, providing better tools to help ophthalmologists during eye surgeries.