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Qiagen Acquires Intelligent Bio-Systems, Maps Out Sequencing Strategy

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Qiagen announced after the close of the market Monday that it has acquired next-generation sequencing firm Intelligent Bio-Systems and said that it has launched an initiative aimed at pushing sequencing technologies into the molecular diagnostics and clinical research markets.

Privately held IBS unveiled a new sequencing-by-synthesis instrument for targeted sequencing, called the Mini-20, at the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities annual meeting in March. The machine is priced at $120,000 and was expected to be available to early-access users in the second quarter of 2012, according to GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication In Sequence.

The IBS technology is based on four-color reversible terminator sequencing chemistry that the company exclusively licensed from inventor Jingyue Ju and Columbia University in 2006. The Waltham, Mass.-based firm was founded in 2005 by Ju and CEO Steven Gordon.

According to Qiagen, it is in the late stages of developing a new system with IBS that builds on elements of previous IBS designs along with Qiagen technologies. The new system is expected to enter beta testing with customers this year and launch commercially next year.

Qiagen said the system will include new sample technologies and software and provide the ability to process up to 20 individual samples in parallel without a need for pooling and bar-coding, saving time and cost.

In addition, Qiagen said that it is developing two automation alternatives for sample-to-answer workflows. One of these integrates the sequencing module into the QIAsymphony platform, while the other would integrate sequencing with the QIAcube sample preparation system.

In an effort to address the informatics required by the new system, Qiagen also said today that it has inked a collaboration with SAP. That alliance will apply SAP's HANA platform to next-gen sequencing data interpretation.

"The rapid advances in next-generation sequencing have enabled life science researchers to unlock many secrets about the molecular building blocks of life," Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said in a statement. "While next-generation sequencing is viewed today mainly as a research tool, our initiative is to expand beyond this and to offer applications designed to address the needs of customers in clinical research and molecular diagnostics."

Qiagen did not disclose the terms of the IBS acquisition, but analysts covering the firm believe it paid $50 million or less for IBS.

It said that the investments it is making in the NGS development effort will be dilutive to its adjusted earnings per share by $.01 for 2012 and approximately $.02 for 2013. But, it expects the investment to be accretive to its full-year 2014 results.

"[T]he move is an important one as it will allow for Qiagen to continue to grow along with the rest of the personalized medicine field," Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan wrote in a note published Tuesday morning. "We see diagnostics, especially in areas such as oncology, moving beyond tests for single mutations (such as KRAS and EGFR) and gene panels and towards whole exome and genome analysis."

Shares of Qiagen were down a fraction of one percent at $16.18 in Tuesday morning trade on the Nasdaq.

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