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Roche Buys German Genomics Firm Signature Diagnostics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Continuing a buying spree, Roche today announced it acquired German translational oncology and genomics firm Signature Diagnostics for an undisclosed amount. 

Based in Potsdam, Signature develops large blood plasma and tissue biobanks in cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer. The biobanks are constructed from multicenter prospective clinical studies, and Signature uses the samples, along with accompanying clinical progression and genetic data, to develop and validate circulating cell-free DNA-based tests. The tests, Roche said, could advance non-invasive treatment response monitoring for cancer patients. 

Noting the importance of biobanks in research into the origins of diseases such as cancer, Roche Diagnostics COO Roland Diggelmann said, "Signature represents a unique bridge between high-value cancer biobanks and [next-generation sequencing] assay development." He added that biobanks can be used for biomarker discovery and hypothesis testing with pharma. 

Roche will leverage Signature's capabilities to accelerate the development of NGS-based diagnostics, he said. In the fall of 2013, Signature told GenomeWeb that it had developed a plasma-based ultradeep sequencing test to monitor colorectal cancer patients and detect metastasis in the early stages.

Roche will integrate Signature into its sequencing unit and will continue to expand the company's genomic signature portfolio, it said. Signature's tests are for research use only. 

The acquisition is the latest by Roche, which has been on a buying binge in the omics and molecular diagnostics space during the past year. In December, it bought informatics shop Bina Technologies and non-invasive prenatal testing firm Ariosa Diagnostics. Last spring, it acquired NGS firm Genia and point-of-care molecular diagnostics company Iquum.

Roche also acquired NGS sample preparation technology from AbVitro last October and made an investment into NGS firm Stratos Genomics in June 2014.

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