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GE buys French startup to bolster breast cancer diagnostics

The logo of General Electric is pictured at its Belfort plant in France.
The logo of General Electric is pictured at its Belfort plant in France.SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. has acquired France’s Zionexa SAS to bolster its offerings of diagnostic tools for patients with late-stage breast cancer.

The startup and its 24 employees will join GE Healthcare’s Pharmaceutical Diagnostics unit, the US manufacturing giant said Thursday. The diagnostics business will also hire 70 more people as part of the transaction. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The purchase adds to GE’s offerings in precision health, one of the pillars of Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp’s turnaround push along with power equipment and aircraft engines. While Culp has downplayed the potential for major acquisitions in favor of improving the debt-laden conglomerate’s existing operations, he has said smaller deals would be part of how GE will “play offense” after years of asset sales and falling revenue.

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Boston-based GE plans to expand availability of Zionexa’s new molecular imaging agent, which is used as an adjunct to biopsy for patients with advanced breast cancer. US regulators approved the product, known as Cerianna, last year.

Imaging agents are radioactive substances that are injected into patients to shed light on what’s happening inside the body, using a medical scanner. The agent developed by Aubiere, France-based Zionexa reveals the state of Stage-4 breast cancer tumors and allows for more precise diagnosis and treatments, GE said.

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