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Pacific Biosciences, Asuragen Collaborate on Clinical Assays

NEW YORK – Pacific Biosciences and Asuragen announced on Monday a collaboration to develop clinical and research assays based on PacBio's single-molecule, next-generation sequencing technology. Their initial focus will be on research to support development of a carrier screening assay.

Under the agreement, scientists at Asuragen will develop assays for PacBio's Sequel Systems using Asuragen's AmplideX PCR technology. Assays will make use of PacBio's HiFi long reads, an approach incorporating multiple passes of the same molecule to create a highly accurate consensus sequence.

"Innovative amplification and sequencing technologies have each been instrumental in discovering and characterizing challenging disease-causing structural variants, such as indels, copy number changes, and repeat expansions," Asuragen Senior VP of R&D Gary Latham said in a statement. "We are excited to work with PacBio to combine the best of both technologies to build assays that can uniformly resolve simple and complex forms of genetic variation for research and clinical applications."

Financial and other details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal is another step down the path towards clinical long-read sequencing. PacBio has been headed in that direction since Illumina tried to acquire it beginning in 2018. After the abandonment of that deal earlier this year, PacBio announced it would pursue the clinical market in China in partnership with Berry Genomics.

Asuragen has signed several collaboration deals in recent years, including with Wave Life Sciences in November 2019, to develop a companion diagnostic for Huntington's Disease therapies, and with RTI in 2018, for a high-throughput screening test for fragile X syndrome in newborns.