Quest Diagnostics acquires Blueprint Genetics
Quest Diagnostics acquires Blueprint Genetics

The companies said the deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, would enable expansion of next-generation sequencing capabilities in rare diseases.

One of the world’s largest lab-testing companies is acquiring a Finnish firm that it said would improve genetic testing for rare and genetic diseases.

Secaucus, New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics said that it would acquire Helsinki-based Blueprint Genetics. Financial terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed. Blueprint – not to be confused with Blueprint Medicines, a U.S.-based drugmaker that specializes in highly targeted cancer drugs – makes tests for 200 genetic panels and 3,900 single genes, across 14 medical specialties. It has been expanding its U.S. presence as well, with a new hub in Seattle. It focuses on gene variant interpretation using next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics technology.

“The great challenge with genetic testing is generating quality, actionable and broadly accessible insights from vast quantities of sequenced genetic data,” Quest CEO Steve Rusckowski said in a statement. “Blueprint Genetics has developed a proven model for delivering highly specialized genetic insights that we believe we can scale to serve new patient populations with unmet medical needs.”

The companies said the deal would enable them to serve providers specializing in rare diseases and neurology in pediatric and academic hospitals. The National Institutes of Health estimates that as many as 30 million Americans live with up to 7,000 different rare diseases.

NGS has most popularly been associated with precision medicine in oncology, especially solid tumors, and companies like the aforementioned Blueprint Medicines and Loxo Oncology – now part of Eli Lilly – have focused their drug development efforts on medicines that specifically target genetic abnormalities that are found through NGS. Still, a paper published in early 2018 pointed to how NGS technology marked a “turning point” in research, diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases. The researchers, at Spain’s University of Santiago de Compostela, noted that until several years ago, genetic analysis was considered the final stage of diagnosing rare diseases and relied on the cumbersome and often unsuccessful process of Sanger sequencing. But the emergence of NGS has made sequencing part of routine diagnostic processes, with results available in a matter of weeks.

“Teaming up with Quest will allow us to extend our capabilities in the United States as well as in Canada and other countries where we already have strong and growing client relationships,” Blueprint Vice President Tommi Lehtonen said in a statement. “While we considered joining forces with several organizations, Quest’s genetics leadership, national infrastructure and strong cultural fit made it the perfect partner from which to extend our reach to new providers and patients.”