Roche Buys U.S. DNA Sequencing Firm

Jun 4, 2014 | In Vitro Diagnostics

Roche Holding AG is acquiring a California company that develops DNA-sequencing technology as part of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s push deeper into diagnostics.

Basel-based Roche said it would pay $125 million upfront for Genia Technologies Inc. of Mountain View (California). Roche may pay shareholders of closely held Genia as much as $225 million in additional payments if certain milestones are reached. The acquisition comes as Roche seeks to expand its capabilities in molecular diagnostics. Earlier this year, Roche struck a deal potentially worth as much as $450 million for the closely held IQuum, a Massachusetts company that makes molecular diagnostics testing equipment.

In 2012, Roche walked away from a proposed $7 billion deal to buy Illumina Inc., a U.S. gene-sequencing group, because the target company sought a higher price. DNA sequencing is the process of decoding a person’s genetic makeup.

The technology is considered to have huge potential for delivering personalized medicines. Genia’s technology is expected to cut the price of DNA sequencing while increasing the speed of the process. Roche said Genia will be integrated into its sequencing unit when the transaction is completed.