Novartis is expanding its reach into personalised medicine with the acquisition of US cancer diagostics specialist Genoptix.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Swiss major is offering $25.00 per share in cash, or $470 million in total. This represents a premium of 27% premium over Genoptix' closing price on January 21.

Based in Carlsbad, California, Genoptix specialises in diagnosing cancers in bone marrow, blood and lymph nodes. In 2009, it posted sales of $184 million, and for the first nine months of last year, revenues reached $148 million.

Genoptix employs somes 500 people and will become part of Novartis Molecular Diagnostics. Novartis chief executive  Joseph Jimenez said the acquisition "will serve as a strong foundation for our individualised treatment programmes". 

He went on to describe the firm's new partner as "an innovative company with a talented team of people who share our commitment to transforming the way medicine is practiced". The board at Genoptix has unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close within the first half of 2011.