The biggest biotech company worldwide has just become even bigger: Roche acquired the Californian GeneWEAVE BioSciences, a privately held company that developed a cool technology to diagnose drug-resistant bacteria. For the integration, Roche shells out $190M (€171M) upfront and up to $235M (€211M) product-related milestones.
GeneWEAVE is an American company that developed a technology which is quite simple but really effective. It is used to quickly identify multi-resistant organisms, without all the time-consuming preparation processes like culturing or sampling.
How? GeneWEAVE is packing DNA into bioparticles that bind to a specific bacteria. The DNA is then transferred to the pathogen in a similar way bacteriophages do, and this leads to light-expression. This first step allows detection of a specific strain, which can then be used as a resistance test to specific antibiotics. The drug is added and if the bacteria stop gleaming, the drug is effective, if not, the pathogens are resistant. For more information about the technology, check out the video on GeneWEAVE’s website here.
Roche saw the potential and has been drawn to this technology. When you have as much money as Roche, it’s easy to acquire the whole company for an upfront payment of €171M with the possibility of up to €211M for product-related milestones. The technology will be integrated with Roche Molecular Diagnostics, one of the world’s leader in the field.
Within the last months, Roche extended its relationships with the US, as illustrated by this acquisition and the immunotherapeutic deal with Clovis Oncology. Meanwhile, Roche left some European companies behind, like Molecular Partners and Wilex.
Drug-resistant bacteria are becoming a public health problem worldwide. According to WHO, as of 2050, over 10 million people could die every year. Thanks to this acquisition, Roche could help make the world a better place, as GeneWEAVE’s hometown Silicon Valley loves to say.