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Following Restructuring, Roche's Applied Sciences Business Stagnant; Continues to Invest in NGS

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This story was originally published Jan 31.

Due to increased competition in the next-generation sequencing space and a slowdown in public research funding, revenues for Roche's Applied Science unit declined 3 percent in 2012 to CHF 737 million ($804 million) from CHF 740 million ($807 million) on a constant currency basis, the company reported last week.

Sales in genomics, which includes sequencing and microarrays, declined 19 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, Roche detailed in a presentation outlining its 2012 performance. It did not break out specific numbers for the genomics business.

The Applied Science unit comprised around 1.6 percent of Roche's total revenues, which rose 7 percent in 2012 to CHF 45.5 billion ($49.9 billion) from CHF 42.53 billion ($46.65 billion) in 2011.

Last year, the company announced its intentions to restructure the Applied Science unit, which included exiting the NimbleGen microarray business and focusing its efforts on next-generation sequencing, including NimbleGen's sequence capture products, as well as its qPCR business, and custom biotech services and reagents (IS 6/12/2012).

In last week's presentation, Roche said it incurred impairment charges of CHF 187 million ($205 million), due to shutting down the NimbleGen microarray business, and an additional CHF 29 million ($32 million) from the "impairment of intangible assets in this business area."

Nevertheless, Roche said it is continuing to invest in sequencing. In the fourth quarter of 2012 it launched new software for its 454 GS FLX+ sequencing system, started a collaboration with Precision System Science to develop an automated emulsion PCR device, and said it had made significant progress on semiconductor sequencing technology it is developing with DNA Electronics (IS 1/22/2013).

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