LightLab, Medical Imager with MIT Roots, Bought by St. Jude for $90M

5/20/10

It’s been a big two days for LightLab Imaging. Good Morning America featured the Westford, MA, firm’s coronary imaging technology on national television today. And St. Jude Medical, the cardiac devices powerhouse, revealed late yesterday that it has bought the small firm for about $90 million in cash.

St. Paul, MN-based St. Jude (NYSE:STJ) is buying LightLab from Goodman Co., the Japanese medical devices firm that has owned LightLab since 2002. With much of its core technology from MIT, LightLab has developed a so-called optical coherence tomography (OCT) catheter—which uses infrared light to capture detailed images of tissues—to diagnose cardiovascular disease.

The FDA gave the LightLab permission to begin selling the system in the U.S. this month, and St. Jude expects its new acquisition to add $20 million to its revenue stream in second half of this year. Before garnering FDA clearance, LightLab had received permission to sell the system in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and other parts of the world.

In December, Massachusetts officials highlighted LightLab as a source of jobs growth in the state, granting $188,951 in tax incentives to the firm as part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1 billion initiative to grow the life sciences sector in the commonwealth. The good news for the state is that St. Jude plans to continue LightLab’s operation in Westford and has no “big layoff plans,” said Amy Nesbit, a spokeswoman for LightLab.

LightLab CEO David Kolstad, in an interview Tuesday unrelated to the buyout, said that the company has committed to adding 29 new workers under the terms of its tax incentives from the state. The company currently employs about 70 people, he said. Nesbit said today that the company plans to apply for another round of state tax incentives this year to support its hiring plans. Kolstad is expected to transition from his chief executive role to a vice president position at St. Jude, she said.

LightLab launched in 1998 to apply some of the OCT discoveries from the labs of MIT professor James Fujimoto and those of his colleagues, including Eric Swanson, to coronary imaging. Fujimoto and Swanson are now technical advisors for the firm, Kolstad says.

St. Jude says it expects to wrap up its buyout of LightLab by the end of June.

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