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After Acquisition, Roche Plans to Use Bina's Informatics Platform for its NGS Systems in Development

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – In acquiring Bina Technologies, Roche said it plans to incorporate the firm's informatics platform with next-generation sequencing systems being developed under Roche's umbrella, such as the Genia nanopore sequencing system, and potentially the system Roche is developing in collaboration with Pacific Biosciences.

Roche said that it would integrate Bina in the first quarter of 2015.

Dan Zabrowski, head of Roche's Sequencing Unit, told GenomeWeb that the firm acquired Bina because "an informatics platform is an integral part of any sequencing system and we think the Bina product and their capabilities will position us very nicely to develop a differentiated sequencing system."

He added that Bina will "work closely with colleagues at Genia to incorporate their platform into the Genia sequencing system." In addition, he said that the Bina technology could potentially be integrated into the clinical sequencing system that Roche is developing in collaboration with Pacific Biosciences or even into Ariosa Diagnostics' pipeline, which Roche acquired earlier this month.

Bina currently markets its Genomic Management Solution for next-generation sequence data analysis, and, according to the company, it can analyze a whole genome in around four hours. The informatics system is compatible with sequence data from all available NGS systems, and Zabrowski said that even after Bina is incorporated into Roche, it will continue to market and develop its products for other sequencing systems, such as the Illumina machines and Thermo Fisher's Ion Torrent platforms.

"We want Bina to continue to be successful with their original endeavors," Zabrowski said. In addition, "with the fast evolution of sequencing, it would also give us an opportunity to see how our customers are using data and what their informatics needs are going forward as we develop our future sequencing systems."

In addition, Zabrowski said that there is the possibility of developing a "phase two of [Bina's] product, which would allow for data aggregation and data management capabilities for reference datasets."

Rather than only providing an analysis and a report of one individual's genome, Zabrowski said the second phase of Bina's product would be able to compare that individual genome to a broader set of data and "potentially be able to aggregate that data and do more of a big data analysis against that individual patient's result."

Over the last year, Roche has made a number of acquisitions and investments in the NGS field even as it shuttered its 454 sequencing business. Earlier this month, it acquired noninvasive prenatal testing company Ariosa Diagnostics. In October, it acquired NGS sample-prep technology developed by AbVitro in order to develop targeted sequencing panels for the Genia and Pacific Biosciences platforms. Roche acquired the single-molecule nanopore startup Genia in June, and last year struck an agreement with Pacific Biosciences to develop a clinical sequencing system. Also this summer, Roche invested up to $15 million in Stratos Genomics to develop its sequencing-by-expansion chemistry.

In explaining Roche's decision to go the route of acquiring and investing in new technology rather than continuing to develop its 454 sequencing technology, Zabrowski said, "For us, when we looked at the needs of our customers and how sequencing was evolving over time, we felt that our 454 technology really was still very good for niche applications, but we needed to gain access to new technology to continue to keep up with our customers' expectations."

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