Irish Firm Agrees to Buy Up to 76% of DDI's Stock

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beleaguered Disease Detection International announced Thursday that Saliva Research of Dublin, Ireland, has come to its rescue by agreeing to purchase more than $5 million in stock of the Irvine-based biomedical company and fund its efforts to win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for several of its diagnostic tests.

Over the next three months, Saliva Research will buy as much as a 76% interest in DDI, which has been accruing millions of dollars in losses after the June, 1990, bankruptcy of its chief distributor.

"They filed bankruptcy and almost killed us," DDI President H. Thad Morris said Thursday. "We've been struggling to refinance the company since that time."

Morris candidly said DDI agreed to merge with Saliva Research simply "because they were willing invest that much money."

DDI has developed a speedy blood test used to detect the presence of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. Persons infected with HIV do not have AIDS but are at risk of developing it.

From start to finish, the process takes just eight minutes but Morris said the company has not sought FDA approval because it does not have the estimated $500,000 required to go through that process.

Saliva Research--a newly formed company set up to acquire emerging technologies--will attempt to get that test approved as well as a similar HIV test it pioneered using a patient's saliva rather than blood. Both companies are also developing tests to detect hepatitis and certain sexually transmitted diseases.

As part of the agreement, DDI would have the right to sell those tests in the United States and Canada. Saliva Research would market them everywhere else and give DDI 20% of its worldwide profits.

The DDI test kit is about the size of a credit card. The user places a drop of blood on the card and adds three chemicals provided in the kit. Should a blue dot appear in the next eight minutes, it means the patient carries HIV.

Morris said DDI's 1991 results will be announced next month but estimated Thursday that revenue will be about $1 million. He anticipates DDI will report a $1.2-million loss for the year. For 1990, DDI lost $2.7 million on revenue of $1.3 million.

Biomedical Rescue

Saliva Research Ltd. of Dublin, Ireland, has agreed to invest more than $5 million and acquire up to 76% of beleaguered Disease Detection International, which is seeking FDA approval of a blood test it has developed to detect the presence of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.

Company: Disease Detection International

Headquarters: Irvine

Employees: 15

Founded: 1985

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