News Feature | August 21, 2014

Roche And Garvan Link In Epigenetics Tech Development

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Roche announced that it has entered into collaboration with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research to co-develop new technologies for targeted epigenomics analysis using DNA sequencing techniques.

Genomics is becoming an increasingly important field as it can provide important sequencing information to researchers, influencing patient diagnosis and treatment. Scientists are also looking at epigenetics, which are heritable changes in gene expression caused by secondary DNA chemical modifications, and its role in a variety of biological processes and cancer. Gene expression in chromosomes is linked with a host of epigenomic events, and scientists are developing more advanced methods to analyze these changes accurately.

As part of the agreement, the partners will work together to develop novel methods in accurate analysis of epigenome regions. Roche Sequencing Unit member NimbleGen will allow access to its SeqCap Target Enrichment System to help research in epigenetic influences on diseases. No financial terms of the agreement were disclosed.

Professor John Mattick, Executive Director of the Garvan Institute, said, “This is an excellent example of collaboration between a leading edge company and research institute in the development of advanced technology for genetic analysis, which will empower more research into human biology and disease, and lead to many translational opportunities.”

Tom Albert, Head of Research at Roche’s Sequencing Unit, said, “This collaboration with the Garvan Institute illustrates the potential of SeqCap Target Enrichment products in additional sequencing applications for epigenetic research. This brings us closer to delivering sequencing applications to the clinic that offer truly differentiated medical value.”

NimbleGen recently acquired Genia Technologies and its semiconductor based, single-molecule, DNA sequencing platform that uses nanopore technology. The company said that the acquisition, valued at up to $225 million, will strengthen its own next generation sequencing pipeline. Albert said that aside from the company’s investments in sequencing platform technologies, Roche’s team is also working to investigate other applications for their present and upcoming technologies.