There were two big announcements at American Esoteric Laboratories, Inc. (AEL) during the past few weeks.
First came news on July 20 that Larry L. Leonard was now on the Board of Directors at AEL. Leonard had been part of the senior executive team at Laboratory Corporation of America from its formation in 1994 until his resignation in 1998. Prior to 1994, Leonard worked at National Health Laboratories for 16 years. Leonard has provided strategic consulting services to AEL during its formation and start-up.
That news was followed by the disclosure, on August 20, that American Esoteric Laboratories had acquired “the commercial molecular testing assets” of Cenetron Diagnostics, Ltd., based in Austin, Texas. Cenetron was formed during the 1990s. Its President and CEO, Dwight B. DuBois, M.D., holds a number of patents for molecular-based technologies.
Cenetron offers molecular-based assays in a number of areas, including infectious disease, cystic fibrosis, and Factor V Leiden mutation analysis. In the late 1990s, Cenetron collaborated with Ambion, Inc. to develop “armored” segments of RNA for use in HIV and HCV testing.
Besides offering clinical molecular testing in Texas, Florida, and other southeastern states, Cenetron also maintains a presence in clinical trials. Its research and development division develops custom assays for selected customers.
Cenetron is AEL’s third acquisition. The company, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, purchased two laboratories in early spring. Both were located in Dallas, Texas, where AEL is currently building its central reference laboratory. That laboratory is expected to be fully operational within eight weeks.
American Esoteric Laboratories is the newest lab company to target the national market for high-end reference and esoteric testing. It received $70 million in venture capital funding. (See TDR, April 26, 2004.)
AEL is currently hiring and training its sales and marketing staff. Once the new laboratory facility in Dallas becomes operational, AEL’s sales team will hit the marketplace to develop new clients. AEL wants to specifically target the esoteric send-out business of hospitals and specialist physicians.
The potential for this company to succeed should not be underestimated. The last “start-up” of a national reference/esoteric lab company was American Medical Laboratories in 1997. When it was sold in 2002, the purchase price was $500 million!