21 Oct 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: Roche is shutting down its wholly-owned subsidiary, 454 Life Sciences, a once-dominant player in next-generation sequencing sector. The firm is also expected to lay off 130 employees.
However, manufacturing of 454 sequencers will continue throughout 2015 and the sequencers will continue to be serviced through mid-2016. The move is part of a series of downsizing measures from Roche in the domain of genetic sequencing over the past year.
Roche had acquired 454 Life Sciences during 2007 as the company showed potential to lead the gene sequencing market into the age of the $1,000 personal genome. However, in recent years 454's technology has been eclipsed by other next-generation sequencers like Illumina's MiSeq and the Ion Proton by Ion Torrent.
During April 2013, Roche also announced that it would close its Applied Science unit, firing 170 workers (including 60 working at 454 Life Sciences), and narrow the focus of this division strictly to next-generation sequencing.
Roche's largest remaining foothold in the area of genetic sequencing is its exclusive licensing deal with Pacific Biosciences for forthcoming in vitro diagnostics products, using the SMRT sequencing system that powers PacBio's RS II Sequencer.