Roche and PSS team up to automate gene sample preparation

ZURICH Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:37am EST

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ZURICH Dec 21 (Reuters) - Roche is to join forces with Japan's PSS to improve its gene sequencing process, raising investment in its own technology after dropping a $6.8 billion bid for sequencing market leader Illumina in April.

The Swiss drugmaker and Precision System Science (PSS) said on Friday they had signed an agreement to develop and manufacture a fully automated tool to prepare genomic samples.

While gene-sequencing is still in its early stages, research company BCC says the global market for sequencing products and services could reach $6.6 billion by 2016, more than double its 2011 size.

Gene sequencing can help better identify which patients benefit from a given drug and companies like Roche hope the technology will expand as drugmakers adopt more medicines that target specific genes.

"To now, the preparation of genomic samples has been a time consuming and complicated manual process in the sequencing workflow," said Roche spokeswoman Silvia Dobry.

"The new instrument will be designed to streamline the sample preparation process reducing the total hands-on time from several hours to just a few minutes."

Roche head of applied science Dan Zabrowski said an automated solution would not only improve the efficiency of laboratory procedures, but also make it easier to reproduce results by eliminating manual workload. (Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Mark Potter)

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