Firms will also work together to develop diagnostics over the next two and a half years.

Gen-Probe made a $50 million investment in Pacific Biosciences, a private sequencing company. In addition, the companies will work together to explore co-development of new integrated clinical diagnostic systems based on Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT™) platform.

Gen-Probe and Pacific Biosciences will initially collaborate on an exclusive basis for up to 30 months. The companies may also purchase some of each others’ products on preferential terms.

Pacific Biosciences’ SMRT DNA sequencing platform enables the observation of natural DNA synthesis by a DNA polymerase as it occurs. The approach is based on eavesdropping on a single DNA polymerase molecule working in a continuous, processive manner.

The technology is built upon three innovations to overcome major challenges facing the field of DNA sequencing, according to Pacific Biosciences: The SMRT Cell enables observation of individual fluorophores against a dense background of labeled nucleotides by maintaining a high signal-to-noise ratio; phospholinked nucleotides produce a completely natural DNA strand through fast, accurate, and processive DNA synthesis; and a detection platform that enables single molecule, real-time detection, as well as flexibility in run configurations and applications. 

“We believe Pacific Biosciences’ third-generation, single-molecule sequencing technology has the potential to play an important long-term role in strategically valuable, high-growth clinical diagnostics markets such as oncology, transplant diagnostics, and pharmacogenomics due to its fast time to result, long read lengths, and ability to interrogate broad genomic regions in high resolution,” remarks Carl Hull, Gen-Probe’s president and CEO.

Hugh Martin, chairman and CEO of Pacific Biosciences, adds “We believe Gen-Probe’s expertise in instrument systems engineering and sample preparation, combined with their capabilities in clinical and regulatory affairs, will help us maximize the potential of our sequencing technology to benefit human health.”

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