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Another Go-Round?

With a $1 billion investment into Foundation Medicine, Roche is taking a majority stake in the oncology genomic testing firm, as GenomeWeb has reported. It is also getting three spots on Foundation Medicine's to-be-enlarged nine-member board of directors.

"By combining [Foundation Medicine's] pioneering approach to genomics and molecular information with Roche's expertise in the field of oncology, we can bring personalized healthcare in oncology to the next level," Daniel O'Day, the chief operating officer of Roche Pharma, says in a statement.

At Xconomy, Ben Fiddler wonders whether this will be a replay of Roche's investment into and subsequent buyout of Genentech. The New York Times' Dealbook adds that Roche owned a majority stake in Genentech for a number of years before it acquired the entire firm.

"These deals are done once every 20 years. And in the life sciences arena there's only been one company that's done that, and that's Roche — with Genentech, and then Chugai [Pharmaceutical]," Mike Pellini, the Foundation CEO, tells Fiddler.

Pellini adds that in the firms' talks that it was clear that Foundation would remain independent after any deal and that there are details in the agreement to shore up that independence for "at least for the near and medium term."

This deal, adds Antonio Regalado at MIT's Technology Review, seems to be the latest in a spate of "takeovers by Roche of innovative diagnostics firms." Roche recently purchased Ariosa Diagnostics, Bina Technologies, and Genia Technologies, he notes, and tried, but failed, to take over Illumina in 2012.