Sequencing behemoth Illumina is set to buy Pacific Biosciences, a leader in long-read sequencing technology, for $1.2 billion, according to an announcement made by the company last week (November 1). Illumina’s CEO says PacBio will complement the company’s short-read sequencing products.
“What it will mean for the market and customers is that by combining these two approaches and the data from these two companies we will give consumers a more perfect view of the genome,” Illumina’s CEO Francis deSouza tells Forbes.
Illumina’s sequencers stich together the sequences of small stretches of DNA, whereas PacBio has advanced the technique of scanning long expanses of the genome, albeit at greater cost. A PacBio sequencer can analyze a human genome for $12,000—Illumina can do it for less than $1,000—although technological upgrades should make long-read sequencing cheaper in the near future.
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The greater accuracy of PacBio’s approach is a draw. “With long-read technology, [Illumina] can address applications including structural variation, haplotypes and regions of genomes that are refractory (repeats of bases),” Leerink Partners analyst Puneet Souda tells Xconomy. “This we believe will become important as clinical genomes come to market longer term and as pharmacogenomics and other applications grow.”
FierceBiotech notes that the acquisition is still subject to shareholders’ and regulators’ approvals.