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Roche acquires cancer biobank firm Signature Diagnostics

Marks Swiss firm's fifth deal this year to expand its molecular diagnostics business

Roche headquartersRoche has bought German firm Signature Diagnostics to leverage the company's unique expertise in biobanks and next-generation sequencing assays.

The Swiss oncology drug specialist said the agreement, its fifth molecular diagnostics deals this year, will help it develop novel diagnostics for cancer patients.

Roland Diggelmann, chief operating officer at Roche Diagnostics, said: “Biobanks play an important role in uncovering the cause or origin of disease such as cancer which is important in translational research and the development of personalised therapies for patients.

“Signature represents a unique bridge between high value cancer biobanks and next-generation sequencing [NGS] assay development. Roche plans to leverage Signature's expertise in both of these areas to accelerate the development of targeted NGS-based diagnostics in the future. Biobanks can also be used for biomarker discovery and hypothesis testing with pharma.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but it will see Signature integrated into Roche's Sequencing Unit and continue to focus on expanding its innovative genomic signature portfolio.

André Rosenthal, chief executive of Signature, said: “Joining forces with Roche is very exciting as it will allow us to further develop our NGS assays for sequencing tests using cfDNA which may advance the development of non-invasive treatment response monitoring for cancer patients.”

The privately-held translational oncology and genomics firm was founded in 2004 and develops large blood plasma and tissue biobanks in multiple cancers, including colorectal and lung, which are constructed from multicentre prospective clinical studies. 

Signature uses the samples from its biobanks along with accompanying clinical progression and genetic data to develop and validate circulating cell free DNA (cfDNA) tests, which have the potential to advance non-invasive treatment response monitoring for patients with cancer. 

Signature is the fifth deal in the past year aimed at building Roche's molecular diagnostics business.

The most recent came just last month when Roche said it would take a majority stake in Foundation Medicine (FMI) for $1.18bn.

This agreement aims to create a personalised medicine partnership to help develop new Roche cancer drugs by harnessing FMI's capabilities in molecular information and genomic analysis.

Roche's sequencing unit is part of its Diagnostics Division, which saw sales rise 6% last year to CHF 10.7bn ($11.6bn).

Article by
Ben Adams

11th February 2015

From: Research



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