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Qiagen, NuProbe Partner on Rare Variant Enrichment in Liquid Biopsy Tests

NEW YORK – NuProbe and Qiagen have entered into a strategic collaboration to develop next-generation sequencing-based cancer liquid biopsy tests, the firms announced Monday.

Under the terms of their agreement, NuProbe and Qiagen will explore integration of their amplicon-based target enrichment technologies — NuProbe's blocker displacement amplification (BDA) and Qiagen's single primer extension technology — to analyze DNA mutations with low variant allele fractions.

The partners will initially develop a research-use only product for clinical oncology, but said in a statement they "may explore further strategic collaboration and develop other commercial products."

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"We are excited about the potential products that will come out of the two synergistic rare variant enrichment and detection methods," Yingshuang Chai, NuProbe CEO and chairman, said in a statement. "This collaboration further demonstrates the adoption of our cutting-edge technology by industry leaders."

The deal is the third partnership this year for NuProbe, a Wyss Institute spinout that completed a merger with China's CarrierGene Biotech earlier this year. In January, the company announced a partnership with Illumina to offer target enrichment assays and in February Oxford Nanopore Technologies licensed NuProbe's BDA tech to help expand into cancer research. 

Qiagen's business relationships have recently been in flux. In October 2019, the firm announced that it would discontinue development of its GeneReader sequencing platform and would partner with Illumina to develop diagnostic panels. Earlier this month, Thermo Fisher Scientific said it would buy Qiagen for $11.5 billion in cash.

Last week, Natera terminated its license, development, and distribution agreement with Qiagen, citing the Illumina deal.

NuProbe also announced it has submitted five CE-IVD registrations for products including liquid biopsy tests for EGFR and BRAF gene mutations. NuProbe plans on obtaining CE-IVD and China National Medical Products Administration registration for additional products, the firm said.