Exact Sciences Expands Cancer Detection Portfolio With New Acquisition

Exact Sciences, a blood-scanning and detection firm, was founded in 1995 and has since released a steady pipeline of products aimed at detecting cancer faster and with more accuracy. As of February 2019, over two million patients have been screened using Exact’s flagship product, Cologuard.

Shares of Exact Sciences (Exact) enjoyed a steep rise on October 27 after the announcement of its acquisition of Thrive Earlier Detection (Thrive), a privately-held cancer-detection service provider, for $2.5 billion. Up 17% on following the announcement, Exact has been judged by the market as a winner in the exchange.

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Thrive certainly stands to benefit from the acquisition as well. The official agreement stipulates that Cambridge-based Thrive will receive $1.7 billion up front─35% in cash and 65% in Exact common stock. Moreover, Exact has agreed to pay another $450 million to Thrive on the condition that certain milestones are met in commercialization and development. The deal will close in early 2021.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy is hopeful that blood-based, multi-cancer screening is quickly becoming the next big reality of the healthcare sector. He also mentioned in his statement that acquiring Thrive is a crucial step toward establishing its effort in supporting blood-based, multi-cancer screening that has the potential to become a common standard of care.

The acquisition of Thrive will empower Exact to turn CancerSEEK, Thrive's early stage cancer-screening test, into a vast blood-based screening platform. Conroy has stated that the contract will permit Exact to overlay Thrive’s promising but early-phase CancerSEEK into their powerful blood-based screening infrastructure.

This isn’t the only acquisition that has bolstered Exact’s portfolio─they’ve also acquired Base Genomics, a DNA methylation company, from Oxford Sciences Innovation. With these two decisive moves, Exact has substantially energized its operations in two key medical arenas—early detection and DNA methylation.

Acquisitions like this are common in the pharmaceutical industry, and for good reason. Because of massive regulation and commercialization costs, pharmaceutical companies often have fantastic technology, but no easy route for implementation. Exact’s acquisitions show the power of merging forces. Exact gets key tech, Thrive gets key infrastructure, and, most importantly, the consumers get better diagnostics.