Swiss drug maker Roche has agreed a $350m acquisition of Genia Technologies, a US-based developer of single-molecule, semiconductor based, DNA sequencing platform using nanopore technology.

The acquisition is expected to strengthen the Swiss drug maker’s next-generation sequencing pipeline.

As part of the deal, Genia’s shareholders will receive $125m in cash and around $225m in contingent payments depending on reaching certain milestones.

Gene sequencing is useful in the development and use of new medicines, enabling researchers and physicians to better understand the human genome.

"Genia’s shareholders will receive $125m in cash and around $225m in contingent payments depending on reaching certain milestones."

According to Roche, Genia’s proprietary technology is expected to reduce the price of sequencing, while increasing speed and sensitivity.

Roche Diagnostics COO Roland Diggelmann said the acquisition of Genia is a step further for the company to introduce a potentially disruptive technology to the market.

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"The addition of Genia’s single molecule semiconductor DNA sequencing platform using nanopore technology strengthens our next-generation sequencing pipeline," Diggelmann said.

Genia CEO Stefan Roever said: "We are very excited about continuing our successful development as part of the Roche Group and bringing our technology to researchers on a global scale."

Compared with other sequencing platforms that rely on expensive optical sensors, Genia uses more cost-effective electronic semiconductors, the same as those used in cell phones and computers, to measure changes in electrical currents and identify DNA sequences.

Following completion of the transaction, Genia will be integrated into Roche Sequencing Unit and will continue to focus on developing the system.

Genia’s nanopore-based platform allows for single molecule, electrical real-time analysis without the need for complicated optics, labels, amplification, or fluidics.