Veteran oncology diagnostics company Qiagen has announced they’ll be moving into the non-invasive prenatal testing space with a new set of assays. The cell-free DNA assays will be developed in partnership with genetic testing company Natera.
“We’ve always felt that to have a leading and winning solution we need to focus on the content,” Jonathan Arnold, Vice President, Head of Oncology & Precision Diagnostics at Qiagen, told MD+DI. “It’s not just about the sequencer or solution, it’s about what that system is actually sequencing. This partnership with Natera also allows us to move outside of oncology.”
Qiagen’s GeneReader next-generation sequencing (NGS) System will be used to run DNA assays developed by Natera. Natera’s Constellation software will also be made available to labs to help them analyze data from NGS. In addition, Qiagen’s bioinformatics tool, Clinical Insights, will also be available for clinical labs.
“The deal that we’ve done with Qiagen is a $40 million deal initially, with the opportunity to earn additional revenue from ongoing royalties,” said Steve Chapman, COO of Natera.
Using maternal blood samples, the non-invasive prenatal tests will act as a liquid biopsy to detect fetal placental DNA and provide genetic risk information. Qiagen’s automated PAXgene blood cell-free DNA collection and sample processing technology will be used to prepare samples for NGS.
“With the Qiagen GeneReader, [Qiagen] is going to commercialize a non-invasive prenatal testing assay based on Natera’s technology and is going to make that assay globally available through their extensive reach through hospital systems throughout the world,” said Chapman. “[Qiagen] is going to bring this test to a significant number of labs and systems within their reach.”
However, the Qiagen partnership isn’t the only one on the books for Natera. In 2013, they signed a deal with sequencing giant Illumina to run its non-invasive prenatal tests on the company’s HiSeq 2500.
“We have a strong relationship with Illumina,” Chapman said. “I think globally we are going to be distributing our NIPT capabilities with Qiagen and they will continue to be available to Illumina customers as they are today.”