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Amgen Invests £50M in Oxford Nanopore

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Amgen will take a £50 million ($66 million) equity stake in UK-based sequencing technology firm Oxford Nanopore Technologies, the companies announced today.

Amgen will now own a roughly 3 percent stake in Oxford Nanopore, which has a valuation of approximately £1.5 billion, a spokesperson for the sequencing firm said. 

Privately owned Oxford Nanopore offers a range of tools and instruments based on a proprietary nanopore-based DNA and RNA sequencing technology. In June, the company reported a 204 percent increase in 2017 revenues to £13.8 million, with cash and cash equivalents of £57.8 million at the end of that year. It also raised £100 million in a private placement of ordinary shares in March.

The companies said that the investment aligns with Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen's strategic focus on using human genetics to deliver new medicines to patients, and will occur through the purchase of ordinary shares at the same price-per-share as in the March financing. According to the Oxford Nanopore spokesperson, the investment is a secondary transaction in which Amgen purchased shares from other long-term shareholders.

"Oxford Nanopore's long-read sequencing capability creates a window into parts of the genome that have been out of reach, as well as giving us a much better handle on structural variants that confer risk of a wide variety of diseases," Kàri Stefànsson, founder of Amgen subsidiary DeCode Genetics, said in a statement. "We have used Oxford Nanopore technology to sequence several hundred human genomes and continue to see the promise of this emerging technology."

The Oxford Nanopore spokesperson added that there isn't a formal collaboration agreement between the firms, though DeCode presented at Oxford Nanopore's user meeting in New York at the end of last year.