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Qiagen Stakes Claim in Next-Gen Sequencing Market with New Sample Prep Products

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Qiagen this week launched four products related to sample preparation for next-generation sequencing — the company's first products in this area since its June entry into the NGS space with the purchase of private sequencing firm Intelligent Bio-Systems (IS 6/26/2012).

At the time, Qiagen said that it planned to incorporate IBS's sequencing technology with its own DNA extraction methods, sample prep, and bioinformatics.

This week, in a conference call discussing the company's 2012 third-quarter earnings, Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz said that Qiagen was "moving ahead with our next-generation sequencing initiative," and as a result will unveil four new sample-prep-related products at this week's American Society of Human Genetics meeting in San Francisco.

The four products include: the Repli-g Single Cell kit, GeneRead rRNA Depletion kit, the GeneRead Library Quant kit, and the GeneRead DNAseq Gene Panel kit.

These products "improve critical sample prep processes in the pre-analytical phase," Schatz said, and "build on our core capabilities." Additionally, the products "address urgent needs to simplify these steps, reduce hands-on time, and provide easier to use protocols for labs."

The products are compatible with currently available next-gen sequencing systems and will also be compatible with Qiagen's sequencing system, for which the company has not yet provided a commercialization timeline.

The Repli-g Single Cell kit uses isothermal amplification, which is used in traditional multiple displacement amplification technologies for single-cell sequencing. However, the kit also incorporates Repli-g polymerase, which is a modified version of the Phi 29 polymerase that is used by other multiple displacement amplification technologies.

According to the company, the Repli-g polymerase enables the kit to resolve secondary structures such as hairpin loops, preventing "slipping, stoppage, and dissociation of the enzyme during amplification."

With starting inputs of one to 10 nanograms, the kit yields around 40 micrograms of DNA with average lengths over 10 kilobases, the company said.

The second kit, the GeneRead rRNA Depletion kit, removes ribosomal RNA using "novel hybrid capture technologies," said Schatz on the call.

The Library Quant kit, meantime, enables quantification of a DNA library, which allows "non-experts to quickly process samples," Schatz said.

Finally, the fourth product, the GeneRead DNAseq Gene Panel kit, will be geared toward the company's clinical customers, Schatz said. It "enables fast enrichment of target gene panels for next-generation sequencing analysis." Panel options include both predefined and validated cancer panels, as well as custom-gene panels, all of which will have online software for variant analysis.

Schatz said on the call that he would provide more details on the sequencing platform itself in 2013. He did not comment on either of the lawsuits the company is involved in regarding its IBS acquisition and sequencing technology.

IBS had licensed sequencing technology from Jingyue Ju of Columbia University, which had sued Illumina for infringing patents it holds related to sequencing-by-synthesis chemistry.

Previously, Qiagen said that it supported Columbia's litigation and would be entitled to royalties if Columbia prevails (IS 7/10/2012).

And late last month, Azco Biotech sued both IBS and Qiagen for breach of contract, fraud, negligent interference, and misrepresentation over Qiagen's purchase of IBS (IS 10/29/2012).

Before being purchased by Qiagen, IBS had a supply and distribution agreement with Azco for its Max-Seq system. The agreement for the Mini-20, however, was an oral agreement, according to the suit. In the suit, Azco said that it was not offered any compensation for its work in developing reagents and protocols when Qiagen purchased IBS, and is thus suing for compensation and punitive damages.

Schatz did not provide an update on the suits during the call.

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