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WuXi PharmaTech Buys NextCode Health for $65M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – WuXi PharmaTech, a provider of laboratory and manufacturing services for biopharmaceutical and medical device customers, has acquired genomic analysis firm NextCode Health for $65 million in cash.

Last year, WuXi tapped NextCode to provide analysis services to customers of the WuXi Genome Center. Following the acquisition, WuXi plans to merge NextCode with its genome center to form a new company that will be named WuXi NextCode Genomics. The business will be headquartered in Shanghai, with operations in Cambridge, Mass., and Reykjavik, Iceland. Ge Li will serve as CEO of the new company and Edward Hu will take on the role of chief financial officer.

Also, Hannes Smarason will be the chief operating officer, Jeffrey Gulcher will be the chief scientific officer, Hongye Sun will serve as chief technology officer, and Hakon Gudbjartsson will be VP of Informatics.

According to the companies, the acquisition broadens and enhances WuXi's existing genomic laboratory services for biopharmaceutical research and clinical development, as well as NextCode's capabilities in genome analysis. It also grows WuXi's customer base. Historically, the company has served the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries, but this acquisition will enable it to tap into the clinical market, WuXi said.

"With the huge unmet medical needs in diseases with a genetic component and the rapid advances in genomics and bioinformatics, now is the right time for WuXi to make a strategic investment in this field, and NextCode is the right partner," Ge Li, chairman and CEO of WuXi PharmaTech, said in a statement. "This new venture of WuXi NextCode Genomics will create important new genomic and bioinformatic products and services to help make personalized treatment and medicine a reality. It will also enable doctors to provide better treatments to patients."

NextCode Health spun out from DeCode Genetics after the latter was acquired by Amgen in December 2012. In October 2013, NextCode announced that it had obtained from Amgen a five-year exclusive license for sequence-based clinical diagnostic applications using technology developed by DeCode. Its portfolio includes a backend database that stores large quantities of genomic data in a fashion that makes it easy for informatics solutions running on the front end of the platform to extract information as needed in real time, as well as an internally developed pipeline of alignment, mapping, and variant calling algorithms that have been optimized using DeCode study data.

Recently, the company formed a partnership with the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative to make sequence and phenotypic data from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), available on NextCode Exchange, the company's genomic data analysis and collaboration service. Its solutions have also been used by University College Dublin in studies focused on better understanding and diagnosing autism and rare diseases, and by Claritas Genomics to analyze data from its next-generation sequencing-based diagnostic tests.

NextCode was also one of 10 firms tapped by Genomics England to move on to a new assessment phase of the 100,000 Genomes project.

The WuXi Genome Center was established in 2011 and provides services for drug development projects that spans target discovery through to preclinical and clinical development and personalized medicine. It has 10 Illumina HiSeq X sequencing machines in operation and offers sequencing services, assay development, validation, and testing services. According to WuXi, the center meets international clinical standards and is the only CLIA-certified clinical genomics laboratory in China.