Invitae CEO says the diagnostic company has big plans for genomic medicine

“We’re building a company for the coming genomic era that includes genetic capabilities through all phases of life,” said Invitae CEO Sean George in a phone interview.

San Francisco-based genetic diagnostics company Invitae has acquired Good Start Genetics and CombiMatrix, expanding Invitae’s portfolio to include prenatal and pediatric testing. It’s part of their long-term plan to make genomic testing routine.

“We’re building a company for the coming genomic era that includes genetic capabilities through all phases of life,” said Invitae CEO Sean George in a phone interview.

Invitae offers a wide range of genomic panels to detect anomalies that could contribute to heart disease, cancer, neurologic disorders and other conditions. In Good Start, Invitae picks up expertise in carrier screening and preimplantation genetic testing. CombiMatrix also provides preimplantation testing, as well as panels to analyze miscarriages and pediatric developmental disorders.

Invitae is issuing 1.65 million shares of stock, paying $18.3 million in cash and assuming $6 million in debt for privately-held Good Start. CombiMatrix shareholders will receive around $27 million in common stock.

Spun off from Genomic Health in 2012, Invitae initially focused on adult inherited diseases and has gradually expanded their portfolio. They now enter a crowded field that includes LabCorp (which acquired Sequenom last year), Illumina, Progenity and others. George believes Invitae’s ability to “do the hard things” will carry them through these market battles.

“We are building a technology engine to win the race of scale,” said George. “We are looking to the OB market and the perinatal space to extend our platform’s capabilities. But more importantly, in order to move the world away from the current disease-by-disease, test-by-test market, it’s managing genetic information for an individual over the course of their life.”

Good Start appealed to Invitae for their cost-effective pre-implantation screening and diagnosis. CombiMatrix brings specific expertise in chromosomal microarrays. In addition, the companies could expand Invitae’s marketing reach.

“The two together have a pretty good commercial presence in the IVF and reproductive medicine sector,” said George. “Combined, especially with our capabilities, I think it’s fair to say we are immediately the number one player in the IVF, reproductive medicine segment for genetic information.”

These acquisitions add around 150 people to the Invitae payroll, a 20 percent workforce increase. George notes they are always looking around for potential acquisitions but will probably take a breather to focus on moving new products to market. Ultimately, Invitae wants to be the company that mainstreams clinical genomics.

“With the broad capabilities we now have at all stages of life, we expect to get traction in this new age of genomic medicine, where all this information can be brought to bear,” said George. “The first company to have broad capabilities across all of it and to continue to lower the cost basis and deliver that information is likely in position to truly bring genetics into medicine for everybody.”

Photo: mediaphotos, Getty Images