Roche announced on Friday that they have acquired the early-stage sequencing technology company, Stratos Genomics to advance the development of their own nanopore sequencer for diagnostic use. The investment in the biotech start-up will provide Roche access to Stratos’ unique Sequencing by Expansion (SBXTM) chemistry.
Rather than sequence native DNA directly, as in traditional approaches, in the Sequencing by Expansion process DNA is converted into an expanded molecule, comparable to replication via polymerase. Stratos however, use a modified polymerase that’s able to incorporate strings of four complementary bases at a time, rather than one by one. These 4-base nucleoside triphosphates, or Xprobes, are protein engineered to incorporate modified nucleotides into the expanded DNA, or Xpandomers with precision replication of the DNA template. Stratos Genomics claim that their sequencing technology will have an impact on the NGS market akin to what PCR had for molecular diagnostics.
Roche is developing a nanopore sequencer of their own that combines electronic and biological elements to sequence patient DNA in a fast, flexible and cost-effective manner in the clinic, as a novel diagnostic tool.
In a press release last week Roche outlined their long term plans for the technology: “The addition of the SBX chemistry, once fully developed, is expected to provide the healthcare community an affordable, fast and flexible result, for multiple targeted clinical applications as well as whole exome and whole genome sequencing.”
Neither party has disclosed financial details of the agreement at this stage.