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Roche's Sequencing and Array Sales Grow 10 Percent Combined in H1

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By Julia Karow

This article was originally published July 22.

Roche Applied Science's microarray and sequencing sales grew 10 percent in aggregate during the first half of 2010, the company reported last week.

Roche did not provide absolute sales figures for its 454 sequencing and Roche NimbleGen array businesses, but noted in its half-year report that the microarray business grew 26 percent, helped by 63 percent growth in reagents sales. It did not break out growth percentages for the sequencing business.

As of the first quarter, during which the sequencing business declined 15 percent compared to the year-ago quarter (IS 4/20/2010), sequencing sales were still significantly larger than array sales, though Roche made no absolute numbers available.

In total, the company's Applied Science business area, which includes both 454 and Roche NimbleGen and is part of the company's diagnostic division, reported CHF 449 million ($430 million) in sales for the first half of the year, a 14 percent increase in local currencies compared to the first half of 2009. For the second quarter of 2010, Applied Science sales totaled CHF 223 million, a 9 percent increase in local currencies over the same period last year.

Roche said that the increase during the first half of the year was driven by its cell analysis and custom biotech segments as well as the MagNA Pure and LightCycler product lines, and was "also supported by strong sequencing sales and the successful launch of the GS Junior system," according to the half-year report.

In a presentation to discuss the firm's half-year results, Roche Diagnostics Chief Operating Officer Daniel O'Day mentioned the global release in May of the GS Junior bench top sequencer — a smaller version of the GS FLX (IS 12/1/2009) — as one of several "key launches" for 2010.

While the GS FLX "has predominantly been in large genomic research centers," O'Day said, the GS Junior "brings us down to an affordable level for every size lab. And of course, every lab around the world is interested in sequencing right now."

According to the half-year report, the GS Junior "is expected to boost sales in the sequencing segment."

Last month, Roche also signed an agreement with IBM for the development of a nanopore-based single-molecule sequencer that uses IBM's DNA transistor technology (IS 7/6/2010). In its half-year report, the company said that "this approach holds promise of significant advantages in costs, throughput, scalability, and speed compared with the sequencing technologies currently available or in development."

According to Roche's presentation, the sequencing market is currently worth more than CHF 1 billion and is growing at a 20 percent rate.

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