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Dialing up diagnostic efforts
TOKYO & HILDEN, Germany—No moss has been growing on QIAGEN N.V. lately, as the diagnostics company announced three deals in as many weeks focused on molecular diagnostics and companion diagnostics. Among those, QIAGEN has struck a long-term strategic collaboration with Hitachi High-Technologies Corp. focused on initiatives to advance molecular testing. Initially, the companies will focus on developing new automation systems based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. Though no financial details were disclosed, Hitachi High-Technologies and QIAGEN agreed that the collaboration could be expanded in the future to include co-commercialization of products in certain geographic markets. Hitachi High-Technologies will be bringing its expertise in industrialized instrument development and manufacturing technologies to the deal, with QIAGEN bringing leadership in molecular sample to insight solutions.
“This new strategic partnership with Hitachi High-Technologies will form a very powerful platform to create new molecular testing solutions. Hitachi High-Technologies is a recognized leader in industrial automation and has a proven track record of innovation as well as a significant presence in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Thierry Bernard, senior vice president, head of the Molecular Diagnostics Business Area and a member of the Executive Committee of QIAGEN. “Combining the NGS-related and other molecular know-how of QIAGEN with the instrumentation expertise of Hitachi High-Technologies will enable us to bring innovative automation solutions to customers all over the world and across the continuum from basic research through to routine molecular diagnostics.”
That’s not the only Eastern partnership for QIAGEN in the past few months, as the company also announced a collaboration with Seegene Inc. The Seoul, South Korea-based firm will develop a menu of multiplex assay panels for QIAGEN’s QIAsymphony RGQ MDx automation platform. In the first project, the focus will be the development of comprehensive panels for profiling infectious diseases, with QIAGEN validating the new tests to run on the aforementioned platform and marketing them worldwide as QIAGEN-branded assays, beginning in Asia and Europe.
QIAGEN’s QIAsymphony is an innovative, easy-to-use modular system that can integrate a molecular laboratory’s workflow from initial biological sample processing to final insights. QIAsymphony RGQ MDx consists of QIAsymphony SP for sample preparation, QIAsymphony AS for assay setup and QIAGEN’s real-time PCR detection platform Rotor-Gene Q MDx.
“Collaborating with QIAGEN to commercialize comprehensive multiplexed panels based on our innovative PCR chemistry technologies will expand Seegene’s global reach. Because our breakthrough MuDT technology enables detection and quantification of multiple target genes in a single channel without melt curve analysis, this is a true next-generation qPCR technology. We look forward to working with QIAGEN to create innovative assay panels that improve life for patients and meet the workflow needs of molecular laboratories,” said Dr. Jong-Yoon Chun, founder and CEO of Seegene.
In another molecular diagnostics agreement, this one back on QIAGEN’s own stomping grounds in Germany, the company linked up with biotechnology firm Biotype Diagnostic GmbH to establish Biotype Innovation GmbH, a new company that will develop and commercialize molecular diagnostic workflows. The deal is structured as a joint venture and will have its head office in Dresden, with the expectation that Biotype Innovation will be fully operational by the third quarter of this year.
Initially, the workflows will be for personalized healthcare applications based on QIAGEN’s proprietary ModaPlex platform. QIAGEN will provide technology and access to its global commercialization engine for the joint venture, with Biotype Diagnostics contributing its know-how, assay development resources and scientific network. Though no financial details were disclosed, QIAGEN will hold worldwide distribution rights for the assays, with Biotype Diagnostics having co-distribution rights in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Peer Schatz, QIAGEN’s CEO, noted that Biotype was “a longstanding partner with an unparalleled expertise in molecular analysis,” and that the partnership “enables us to expand the menu of our unique ModaPlex platform, offer assay development services for pharma companies and thereby expand our leadership in companion diagnostics.”
These busy months haven’t gone unnoticed, as they have earned QIAGEN some positive analyst attention. Zacks Equity Research said on its analyst blog that it was “upbeat about the company’s molecular diagnostics business,” which registered approximately $5 billion to $6 billion in total sales in 2014, adding, “We are encouraged to note that though it is still a small part of the global in-vitro diagnostics market, it is currently the fastest growing segment with a projected compound annual growth rate in high-single or low-double digits.”
Zacks Equity Research added in another post that it expects the Hitachi High-Technologies deal “will elevate QIAGEN’s position in the rapidly changing and highly competitive markets of in-vitro diagnostics and life sciences, applying genetic engineering. Moreover, co-commercialization of offerings in specific geographic regions is also expected to expand their reach for customers of both the companies. According to a recent study published by U.S.-based Transparency Market Research, the global molecular diagnostics market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.1 percent in the period 2013-2019 to reach a value of $8.7 billion by 2019. We believe, given the above developments, the aforementioned partnership will allow QIAGEN to capture a considerable share of this market potential, going forward.”