The acquisition will give Qiagen access to the pyrosequencing technology used in the world’s first real-time sequencing detection system, the PyroMark, as well as for next generation gene sequencing.
Qiagen will acquire the assets of the Biosystems business for an initial purchase price of $53m (€38.9m) as well as a further $7m if performance milestones are met. All staff related to the Biosystems unit will be offered employment by Qiagen.
The cash generated by the sale of the Biosystems business should enable Biotage to pay off some of its accumulated losses, which at the time of its annual general meeting (AGM) in April amounted to some SEK667m (€68.7m).
The Biosystems business generated revenues of SEK101m (€10.4m) in the 12 months to 30th June 2008, just over a fifth of Biotage’s total revenues SEK481m (€49.4m) and accounted for two thirds of Biotage’s SEK42.4m (€4.35m) operating profits.
Biosystem’s core pyrosequencing technology can be used to read short stretches of DNA up to 100 base pairs in length in real time.
”Pyrosequencing technologies are excellent complements to our portfolio of current and future molecular testing solutions, including our modular processing platform QIAsymphony”, said Peer Schatz, CEO of Qiagen.
“With Pyrosequencing, we are adding nothing less but a proven gold standard for high-resolution sequence detection and quantification which, due to its high level of reliability, accuracy, ease-of-use and cost-efficiency is widely used in today’s next generation sequencing technologies.”
In 2003, Biotage licensed the rights to massively parallel pyrosequencing to Roche/454 for use in its ultra high-throughput whole genome sequencing platform, the Genome Sequencer FLX.
“Qiagen is not only gaining financial interest and technological leadership in a core next generation sequencing technology, but is also addressing significant current and future needs in our core markets for quantitative, high-resolution sequence analyses of short-medium stretches,” said Schatz.
In July, Qiagen agreed to acquire Corbett Life Science in order to gain access to its rotary RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) cycler system, the Rotor-Gene.
As part of this latest acquisition, Qiagen will take ownership of Biotage’s 17.5 per cent stake in Corbett Life Science.
That acquisition marked a change in strategy for Qiagen as the company had historically shied away from getting involved in the instrumentation market, preferring to adopt an ‘open platform’ strategy and offer its assay and sample preparation technologies for use on third-party systems.
The Biosystems business unit has continued to see positive sales results, and will add to Qiagen’s growing instrument portfolio.
It launched the PyroMarkQ24 in March this year, which utilises pyrosequencing technology to enable researchers to conduct epigenetic variation studies of CpG methylation, allele quantification and mutation analysis.
The instrument is being evaluated by Uppsala University Hosptial, Uppsala, Sweden, as a tool for cancer diagnostics so that clinicians can predict the response to different cancer therapies and choose the most suitable anticancer agent.
“The fit with Qiagen is extraordinary and will be very beneficial for customers ofboth companies,’’ said Torben Jorgensen, CEO of Biotage.
“Qiagen has an excellent molecular assay and also epigenetic portfolios which perfectly fits together with our PyroMark instruments.”