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Pacific Biosciences rockets after Roche Deal

Authored by James Sheppard

Global pharma and diagnostics giant Roche and US based Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) have signed a $75m product development deal. The deal will see PacBio develop and make gene sequencing and other clinical products and license them to Roche’s Diagnostic arm.

PacBio currently markets the only sequencing technique that can read a genome at ultra-high speed without prior amplification. The 3rd generation sequencing technology produced by PacBio, called SMRT, is currently the only technique in the world that can read a length of 5,000 bases on average at an a accuracy above 98%.

The deal saw PacBio’s receive a $35m upfront payment. Alongside milestone payments that PacBio will receive the company will also gain additional income from making and supplying the instruments, software and other items that Roche plans to market for clinical use combined with its assay specific reagents.

Dan Zabrowski, Head of the Sequencing Unit, Roche Molecular Systems said, ‘Sequencing will be a key technology in addressing the strong and growing demand for genetic and genomic solutions in the clinic. We are looking forward to this partnership to accelerate and support the transition of DNA sequencing into routine diagnostics through our joint development efforts.’ Mike Hunkapiller, President and CEO of PacBio added ‘As a world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, Roche brings valuable expertise in designing products for clinical use and obtaining regulatory approval to sell clinical products in the US and around the world.’

Following the dissolution of Roche Applied Science and Roche’s failed bid to acquire Illumina, many in the industry believed that Roche had given up competing in the field of gene sequencing. However, this latest deal with PacBio shows that Roche has every intention of competing in the sequencing market.

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