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Roche Partners with DNA Electronics to Help Migrate 454 Platform to Electrochemical Detection

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This story was originally published Nov. 1.

Roche's 454 Life Sciences group said this week that it will partner with London-based DNA Electronics to develop a low-cost, high-throughput DNA sequencing platform based on 454's long-read chemistry and DNA Electronics' electrochemical detection technology.

As part of the agreement, Roche signed a non-exclusive license for DNAElectronics’ ion-sensitive field-effect transistor, or ISFET, DNA sequencing technology, a semiconductor-based approach that "enables sensitive detection of nucleotide incorporation during sequencing," Roche said.

Roche said the new platform will "build on 454 Life Sciences’ current pyrosequencing-based sequencing platforms by enabling a seamless evolution from optical detection to inexpensive, highly scalable electrochemical detection."

The company plans to marry 454's long-read sequencing chemistry with DNA Electronics’ "expertise in pH-mediated detection of nucleotide insertions and semiconductor design," in order to produce a long-read, high-density sequencing platform.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Roche said that the combination of its chemistry with semiconductor technology "has the potential to enable comprehensive human genome mutation and structural variation identification within hours."

A Roche spokesperson told In Sequence via e-mail that the use of electrochemical detection "offers significant advantages in scalability, cost savings, and speed compared to optical detection," but added that it would be "premature" to disclose expected performance improvements at this time.

Ion Torrent, now part of Life Technologies, has also taken a license to DNA Electronics' intellectual property related to DNA sequencing. The specifics of that agreement have not been disclosed (IS 8/3/2010).

A DNA Electronics spokesperson said this week that Ion Torrent has licensed "relevant IP" from the company, but declined to comment on the specifics of their technology or chip design.

The spokesperson added that Roche has "an exclusive strategic collaboration with DNA Electronics to design and produce Roche's semiconductor chip."

Roche noted that the DNA Electronics agreement is in line with its strategy to grow its "future sequencing portfolio," and expands upon a collaboration with IBM that it announced in July to develop a nanopore-based single molecule sequencing platform (IS 7/6/2010).

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