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Qiagen Acquires Biotage Pyrosequencing Tech for MDx Applications

This article has been updated to include comments from Roche and Qiagen spokespersons.
NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Qiagen said today that it has acquired the Biosystems business of Biotage, which includes pyrosequencing technology that will be used for molecular diagnostic applications, for approximately $53 million in cash and milestone payments of up to around $7 million over the next four years.
The Biosystems unit sells real-time sequence detection systems called PyroMark MD, PyroMark ID, and PyroMark Q24. It said that the systems offer “significant advantages” over other sequence analysis technologies in short-length sequence detection and quantification.
Qiagen said that the technology can be applied to epigenetic research, molecular diagnostics, and multiplex analysis in genetic and pathogen detection. The firm noted that pyrosequencing is the only proven technology that can perform absolute and direct quantification of methylation patterns. It also said that unlike other PCR-based multiplex assays, the technology can detect both known and unknown genetic variants in DNA target regions.
Qiagen said that it would optimize its existing assays for use on Pyromark and will develop new molecular diagnostics and research tests for the platform.
"Pyrosequencing technologies are excellent complements to our portfolio of current and future molecular testing solutions, including our modular processing platform QIAsymphony", Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said in a statement. “Our 'sample to result' solutions now span qualitative/endpoint PCR, multiplex technologies, capillary electrophoresis, as well as quantitative and high-resolution sequence-based analysis.”
Qiagen said that in connection with this acquisition, it has purchased the remaining 17.5 percent of the outstanding stock of Corbett Life Sciences, which it acquired for up to $135 million earlier this year.
All of Biotage Biosystems’ employees will join Qiagen, and Uppsala, Sweden-based Biotage will provide certain administrative services for Qiagen over the next 12 months.
Qiagen said that it expects to incur a one-time charge of $.02 per share in the fourth quarter related to the acquisition. It expects the Biosystems business to add $2.5 million in sales for the remaining three months of 2008 and around $15 million in 2009.
In 2003, Biotage licensed to 454 Life Sciences, now part of Roche, the rights to certain massively parallel formats of the pyrosequencing technology, which became the base for that firm’s next-generation sequencing platform. At that time, Roche gained the exclusive rights to use the technology for five years for whole-genome applications.
A Roche spokesperson told GenomeWeb Daily News today via e-mail that Roche has since obtained exclusive rights to the technology for the entire life of the patent.
He said the exclusivity of the license was limited only by the the life of the patents themselves. "The acquisition does therefore not affect our ability to address applications in any field, including diagnostics, for high-throughput sequencing," the spokesperson said.
He also said that Biotage's Pyromark instrument is currently being used for low-throughput molecular tests, and those assays provide "orders of magnitude fewer reads" than the Roche 454 GS FLX platform.
A Qiagen spokesperson told GWDN that diagnostic sequencing "is mostly covered in formats below highly parallel. Specific fragment analysis is more sufficient and in our view this approach much better addresses common and future needs in MDx."

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