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Roche buys gene sequencing firm

Swiss firm has been working with Kapa for two years but is now acquiring the company

Roche HQ 

Roche has cemented a long-running partnership with gene sequencing specialist Kapa Biosystems with an agreement to take over the company.

The Swiss major has been working with Kapa since 2013, and at the end of last year expanded their relationship with Kapa agreeing to manufacture custom RNA-seq sample preparation kits for Roche's NimbleGen unit.

Now, Roche has agreed to buy privately-held Kapa for an undisclosed sum to "strengthen its next generation sequencing (NGS) product offerings," two years after it tried and failed to woo Illumina to the altar.

Since then, Roche has been steadily expanding its gene sequencing and molecular diagnostics capabilities through a series of acquisitions, most recently snapping up Germany's Signature Diagnostics earlier this year shortly after it took a majority stake in genomic analysis specialist Foundation Medicine Inc for $1.18bn.

In 2014 it also added Genia Technologies to its stable in a $350m deal, in what analysts described as putting a "foot in the door" of the $2.5bn NGS market, which is predicted to swell to $8.7bn by 2020 but at the moment is still dominated by Illumina with around 75% market share,

Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Kapa is a protein engineering specialist, making enzymes and other reagents used in genomic studies that can help diagnose, monitor and treat diseases, so fits perfectly with Roche's aspirations to expand in the NGS area.

Kapa's technology allows for the generation and screening of "large numbers of enzyme variants," said Roche, adding: "Tailored enzymes with improved performance for specific applications can be rapidly selected, speeding up product development time lines."

Roland Diggelmann, who is chief operating officer of Roche's diagnostics division, said adding Kapa to its portfolio would allow the company to offer "complete genetic testing" to its customers.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th August 2015

From: Sales

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