Roche and IBM develop 3rd generation DNA sequencing technology
Penzberg (Germany) - Diagnostics and IT giants Roche and IBM are joining forces to bring down the cost of DNA sequencing to a few hundred euros. On Thursday, the companies announced that they will develop a nanopore-based DNA sequencer based on IBM's "DNA Transistor" technology. In contrast to current DNA sequencing technologies, nanopore sequencing does not need PCR amplification but reads the DNA code directly as the double helix is threaded through a nanometer-sized pore in a silicon chip. The technology principle, which is already commercialized by the company Oxford Nanopore, is expected to significantly improve speed, costs and read lengths compared to current next-generation sequencing machines. Experts expect that those 3rd generation sequencing technologies will open up the molecular diagnostics market for high throughput sequencing, e.g. for patient stratification before medication. "Sequencing is an increasingly critical tool for personalized healthcare. It can provide the individual genetic information necessary for the effective diagnosis and targeted treatment of diseases," explained Manfred Baier, Head of Roche Applied Science (Penzberg, Germany). As part of the agreement, Roche will fund continued development of the technology at IBM and provide additional resources and expertise through collaboration with Roche's sequencing subsidiary, 454 Life Sciences. Roche will develop and market all products based on the technology.