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Sequencing Services Unaffected as Eurofins Consolidates Facilities After Operon Buy

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Customers of Eurofins Genomics’ DNA sequencing services can expect “business as usual” following the company’s recent acquisition of oligonucleotide provider Operon Biotechnologies, a company official told In Sequence this week.
 
Eurofins will continue to provide sequencing services through its Eurofins MWG and Eurofins Medigenomix subsidiaries, which have sites in Germany, India, and the US, according to an MWG spokesperson.
 
Over the next year, Medigenomix’s Martinsried, Germany, operations will move to nearby Ebersberg, where MWG is headquartered. MWG’s US operations in High Point, NC, will move to Huntsville, Ala., where they will merge with Operon’s existing location.
 
Despite this consolidation, “sequencing services will not change for our customers,” Jutta Huber, Eurofins MWG’s marketing manager, told In Sequence this week.
 
MWG has been marketing all Eurofins DNA sequencing services. The company currently offers next-generation sequencing through the Medigenomix’s Martinsried site, which installed a Roche/454 Genome Sequencer 20 about a year ago (see In Sequence sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News 11/27/2006).
 
At the time, the company said Medigenomix was the “first international service provider in Germany to offer their customers access to the next generation of DNA sequencing technology.” This summer, Medigenomix upgraded its GS 20 to a GS FLX system.
 
Demand for 454 sequencing services has been strong among both industrial and academic customers, according to Huber. For example, in May, MWG and Medigenomix reported using the GS 20 to sequence an Escherichia coli protein production strain for Wacker Biotech, a Jena-based contract manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals, and to compare the genome to its parental strain.
 
Last month, researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and Medigenomix published an article in Genome Research in which they described the use of 454 sequencing for gene expression profiling (see In Sequence 11/27/2007).
 
According to its website, Medigenomix offers whole-genome shotgun sequencing, paired-end sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and amplicon sequencing on the 454 system.
 
Eurofins MWG and Eurofins Medigenomix are not the only commercial providers in Germany to offer next-generation sequencing services: GATC Biotech of Konstanz installed 454’s GS FLX, Illumina’s Genome Analyzer, and ABI’s SOLiD sequencer this year.
 
The Eurofins subsidiaries are also keeping an eye on other new sequencing technologies. “Of course we are evaluating new technologies, and if they seem to be beneficial for us, and keep what they promise, we can think about further adding technologies for our services,” Huber said, but did not mention any specific plans to acquire new sequencing systems.
 
MWG is also “thinking about” introducing next-generation sequencers to its other sequencing facilities, she said.
 
Building a Genomics Services Business
 
Eurofins Scientific operates a network of more than 100 laboratories in 27 countries, offering a range of bioanalytical testing services in 27 countries. The group has about 7,000 employees and expects approximately €460 milion ($676 million) in revenues this year, according to company documents.
 

“Sequencing services will not change for our customers.”

Eurofins’ genomic services business — also known as Eurofins Genomics — offers oligonucleotide synthesis as well as sequencing services, and comprises three subsidiaries: Eurofins MWG, Eurofins Medigenomix, and recently acquired Operon Biotechnologies. Operon’s managing director Patrick Weiss has become CEO of Eurofins Genomics.
 
Medigenomix was originally spun out of the genetics department of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich in 1998 as a high-throughput sequencing provider, according to the company’s website. It also offers other DNA testing services, such as genotyping, paternity testing, and DNA forensics. In 2001, Medigenomix became a subsidiary of Eurofins Scientific.
 
MWG was founded as MWG Biotech in 1990 and went public in 1999. It joined the Eurofins Scientific group in 2004. Originally, the firm had a sequencing facility in Ebersberg, which it moved to Medigenomix’s Martinsried site in mid-2005 in order to focus more on its oligonucleotide business. In January 2007, Medigenomix purchased MWG’s sequencing business for €2.3 million ($3.38 million). Now, Medigenomix’s sequencing facility will move to Ebersberg, which is about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Martinsried.
 
This summer, Eurofins Genomics, which holds more than 85 percent of MWG’s capital, offered to acquire the remainder of MWG, a deal that has not closed yet. Eurofins Ventures, a subsidiary of Eurofins Scientific, purchased MWG’s Indian operations in September for €105,000 ($154,000), MWG stated on its website last month. Also last month, MWG said that Operon Biotechnologies will purchase its US business for a yet-to-be determined sum.

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