Amgen invests $66M in genetic sequencing company Oxford Nanopore
- Amgen has invested £50 million, or about $66 million, in equity in the privately owned U.K. company Oxford Nanopore Technologies.
- Oxford Nanopore has developed DNA and RNA sequencing technology, ranging from the pocket-sized MinION sequencer to high-throughput benchtop PromethION machines.
- "Oxford Nanopore's long-read sequencing capability creates a window into parts of the genome that have been out of reach, as well as giving us a much better handle on structural variants that confer risk of a wide variety of diseases," said Kári Stefánsson, founder of deCODE Genetics, an Amgen subsidiary that's worked with Oxford Nanopore.
While California sequencing company Illumina is larger, Oxford's kept itself relevant and recently attracted new cash to fund an expansion.
Amgen's seen the sequencing company in action through its subsidiary deCODE Genetics, which the big biotech acquired in 2012.
The Reykjavik human genetics company was founded in 1996 to study genetic risk factors for disease using the well-defined Icelandic population, giving Amgen access to research that could back up its drug R&D. deCODE uses Oxford Nanopore's sequencing capability to conduct genome research, including the identification and validation of potential new targets.
"We have used Oxford Nanopore technology to sequence several hundred human genomes and continue to see the promise of this emerging technology," Stefánsson said in a statement.
DeCode could help Amgen understand the genetics behind human health and disease to fuel drug discovery and development. Investing in Oxford Nanopore further underscores that hope.
Other biotechs have set up similar endeavors. Most notable is Regeneron's Genetics Center, which recently uncovered a genetic variant associated with a reduced risk of chronic liver disease.
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