Many aspects of the deal, such as exact financials, were not disclosed. But the word "exclusive" doesn't show up in the press release, which suggests (as Shawn Baker pointed out in a tweet) that Roche could still acquire a company in this space. Roche's previous jilting of PacBio hasn't prevented them for being named as a possible home for that company. There's also a crowded field of startups that might be looking to be bought, along with Genapsys that actually has a product on the market. So this deal could be seen as possibly satiating Roche's appetite in the clinical sequencing space.
Of course, these are short read assays. While a lot of oncology work is quite happy with this -- after all it is too frequent that one must work with formalin fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples that already have their nucleic acids shredded -- there are some interesting applications in fusion protein detection for long reads. There's also plenty of room for speed improvements, which in oncology can mean getting the right patient on the right drug sooner. Library preps for one platform might feed another, as I suggested in my post yesterday -- and I'm finally remembering that a London Calling speaker had discussed exactly this for oncology, taking libraries already being built for Illumina and ligating on ONT adapters to compare the two platforms on exactly the same material.
But if Roche isn't on the prowl now, that does take a big player out -- though one that is sometimes viewed as where genomics technologies go to be buried. Which is one implication I take from this announcement: the Genia technology will never be launched. Certainly not soon, or Roche wouldn't bother tying up with Illumina. It's over five and half years since Roche bought Genia for what seemed like, based on two publications, a near-ready system. ONT made noises they had solid with great blocking potential across the nanopore space, but surely Roche bought Genia thinking that wouldn't be an insurmountable problem. Did they change their mind? Or was the technology only seemingly close to launch but in reality there was a great chasm that could not be bridged? We'll probably never know -- though I'd be happy to buy a drink or dessert or similar comestible bribe for someone willing to fill me in, even if it is for my ears only (I'll buy better consumables if I can write about it!).
"ONT made noises they had solid with great blocking potential across the nanopore space, but surely Roche bought Genia thinking that wouldn't be an insurmountable problem. Did they change their mind? Or was the technology only seemingly close to launch but in reality there was a great chasm that could not be bridged? "
The due diligence here possibly wasn't up to scratch.
Also making sequencers from scratch, especially single molecule ones, just isn't as easy as many people think.
Institutionalised large company culture doesn't really fit with cutting edge innovation.
I fully agree with this comment. Even if mid-sized company, it is very difficult to work on cutting edge innovation unless the very top management understand the technologies pros and cons thoroughly. Fingered crossed with Roche, but let's see. They already kicked out two companies from their portfolio.
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