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Agilent Invests $80M in Lasergen

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Agilent Technologies announced Monday that it has invested $80 million in next-generation sequencing technology firm Lasergen, with the ultimate goal of incorporating Lasergen's technology into a clinical sequencing workflow.

Agilent's investment gives it a 48 percent stake in Houston-based Lasergen and a seat on the board of directors. Under the terms of the deal, Agilent also has the option to acquire the smaller company's remaining shares for an additional $105 million. That option expires March 2, 2018.

"Agilent is investing in a team and technology that hold great promise for the future of genetic sequencing," Jacob Thaysen, president of Agilent's Diagnostics and Genomics Group, said in a statement. "Agilent has been clear about its strategic intent to grow in the diagnostics space and, to that end, build a complete routine clinical NGS workflow. Our investment and collaboration are designed to accelerate Lasergen's work in commercializing their novel technology, focused on developing a sequencing workflow aimed at clinical applications."

Lasergen's Lightning Terminators sequencing chemistry has the potential to be faster, more accurate, and less expensive than existing sequencing technologies, Agilent said. Lasergen was founded in 2002 by Baylor College of Medicine Professor Michael Metzker.

On a conference call following the announcement, Agilent CEO Michael McMullen said the firm would use its instrument engineering expertise to help Lasergen build a sequencing instrument; Agilent would also "build everything around it" in the workflow, including liquid handling, target enrichment, quality control, and informatics analysis.

Agilent executives estimated it would take at least three to four years to develop a fully-fledged, clinic-ready workflow.

Agilent said the investment will result in an earnings-per-share dilution impact of $.02 to $.03 in both fiscal years 2016 and 2017 — however, the firm said its company-level guidance remains unchanged.

Last September, Agilent announced it planned to acquire the entirety of Seahorse Bioscience for $235 million in cash. That deal was completed in November.