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Bio-Rad to Acquire RainDance Technologies

This article has been updated from a previous version to correct the number of droplets generated by the RainDance digital PCR system.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Bio-Rad Laboratories announced today that it has agreed to acquire rival droplet-based PCR systems manufacturer RainDance Technologies for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2017.

RainDance's systems include RainDrop Digital PCR, ThunderStorm, and ThunderBolts Next-Generation Sequencing Enrichment. The RainDance system partitions samples into some 10 million droplets, which is purportedly 500 times greater than the number generated by the Bio-Rad systems.

The RainDance intellectual property portfolio will extend Bio-Rad's reach into next-generation sequencing applications and strengthen its position in the area of droplet digital PCR, Bio-Rad CEO Norman Schwartz said in a statement.

"We look forward to expanding our offering to provide life science and clinical diagnostics customers with solutions for a wide range of nucleic acid detection applications," Schwartz said.

Droplet-based PCR from both Bio-Rad and RainDance has been developed for oncology and liquid biopsy applications, viral load monitoring, as well as copy number variation and mosaicism research.

Bio-Rad announced last week the launch of a single-cell sequencing system co-developed with Illumina. 

RainDance also has several partnerships in the clinical space. It signed a multi-year supply agreement with Myriad Genetics, for example, which uses 30 in-house RainDance ThunderStorm platforms to set up PCR reactions for target amplification prior to sequencing. RainDance has also partnered with Pacific Biosciences to co-develop and commercialize solutions for de novo whole-genome assembly.

However, RainDance also reduced its staff by about 10 percent last year and pulled a planned initial public offering citing market conditions.

Schwartz had hinted in a Q3 earnings call in November that it was scoping out M&A possibilities and something might come to pass in the following three to six months. It's most recent major acquisition prior to RainDance was of GnuBio in 2014 for $110 million. At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference last week Bio-Rad said it is targeting late 2017 for the launch of a sequencing system developed from the GnuBio technology and that the system will initially focus specifically on targeted sequencing for the oncology market.