Roche buys Kapa to boost sequencing technology offering
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are high-throughput technologies which allow the rapid sequencing of DNA and RNA in the study of genomics and molecular biology.
While Roche is already one of the major players in the sector (others include Illumina and Thermo Fisher through its acquisition of Life Technologies), the Swiss Pharma Giant has expanded its offering through the acquisition of Massachusetts-based genomics tools provider Kapa Biosystems.
“Kapa`s technology is not a NGS technology,” Roche spokesperson Claudia Schmitt told this publication. Rather, “Kapa provides a collection of essential components for NGS where the probe/library preparation is very enzyme intensive.”
This “custom enzyme evolution” technology, she continued, “allows for the generation of enormous libraries of enzyme variants, from which ideal forms of the enzyme can be rapidly selected for various applications in the NGS workflow,” advancing biomedical research by bypassing the constraints of native enzyme structure or function.
“[The acquisition] will enable us to tailor enzymes to suit specific applications in next-generation DNA and RNA sequencing and DNA amplification. The control of NGS reagents such as specific enzymes is desired for IVD products and will support our future NGS IVD solution.”
While financial details of the deal have not been divulged, Schmitt told us Kapa brings topline sales and an already established sales channel which complements Roche’s existing on-market NGS portfolio.
Furthermore, Roche will maintain Kapa`s operations in Boston and South Africa while integrating the sites within its NGS unit.
Oncology drug development
Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Kumar, who covers the sector but not Roche itself, said the deal complemented Roche’s “long history with NGS” which began with the 454 acquisition in the mid-2000s.
Moreover, he added such a bolt-on could give Roche the edge over others in developing oncology drugs:
“While all other leading players have incorporated NGS tools within their research armamentarium, we believe that Roche is one step ahead by owning these assets, and could be a differentiating factor in the long term.”