More diagnostics for Qiagen

Company acquires Pyrosequencing technology from Sweden’s Biotage for $53 million

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UPPSALA, Sweden—Looking to continue a refocusing and restructuring it started last year, Biotage AB announced it is selling its biosystems business, which includes its Pyrosequencing technology to leading diagnostics company Qiagen, for $53 million. In addition to the biosystems business, Qiagen has also purchased the remaining 17.5 percent of Australian PCR specialist Corbett Life Sciences that is does not already own. Biotage can also earn an additional $7 million in performance and milestone payments over the next four years.

The move to sell the biosystems business comes less than four months after Biotage entered the molecular imaging market and as the company continues with a strategic review of its operations that now have a greater focus on discovery chemistry.

According to company information, the sale to Qiagen "will allow Biotage to further enhance and develop the discovery chemistry division. Biotage envisages broadening its current product offering into new applications." Areas of interest for the company include environmental and food testing—areas where sequencing technology has no bearing. Biotage also has a range of microwave technologies that are being used in the life sciences for a range of chemistry research.

While Biotage notes in recent news releases that the company has seen challenges in the pharma market for its microwave products, it nonetheless sees opportunity here to broaden its microwave capabilities into new applications areas, while also being open to entering new research areas that align with its new focus.

The sale to Qiagen of the Pyrosequencing technology is hardly surprising given how aggressively Qiagen has staked out its position in the diagnostics and sequencing markets.

"Pyrosequencing technologies are excellent complements to our portfolio of current and future molecular testing solutions, including our modular processing platform QIAsymphony," notes Peer Schatz, CEO of Qiagen. "Our sample-to-result solutions now span qualitative/endpoint PCR, multiplex technologies, capillary electrophoresis as well as quantitative and high-resolution sequence-based analysis. 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."

The deal also tidies up Qiagen's $135 million, mid-summer acquisition of Australia-based Corbett Life Sciences. That deal provided the company with the RotorGene rotary real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cycler system, as well as some additional liquid handling technology.
For Biotage, divesting its biosystems business should help the Pyrosequencing technology business thrive in an environment that is more focused on that particular market.

"The fit with Qiagen is extraordinary and will be very beneficial for customers of both companies,''  notes Torben Jørgensen, CEO of Biotage in a press release announcing the deal. "Qiagen has an excellent molecular assay and also epigenetic portfolios which perfectly fits together with our PyroMark instruments.

In addition, Qiagen's technology leadership in molecular sample and assay technologies, its global reach and extensive marketing, combined with strong relationships with researchers and leading laboratories around the world, bring exciting opportunities for biosystems. Qiagen is the ideal partner to take the biosystems business to the next level and to fully exploit the Pyrosequencing technology."

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