Illumina Buys PacBio for $1.2bn
DNA sequencing company Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) is being bought for $1.2bn by bigger rival Illumina, it was announced yesterday. The deal represents a 71% premium on yesterday’s closing price for PacBio, and is the largest that Illumina has ever made.
Illumina is credited with driving costs of genome sequencing down over the course of the last decade from $10m per person ten years ago to around $1,000 now. Illumina’s CEO said that the company will eventually be able to lower the cost to just $100 per person.
Illumina’s current technology uses ‘short-read’ sequencing methods, looking at and rearranging smaller sequences of DNA to create the bigger picture. This method, while largely useful, does not work as well where DNA has been structurally re-arranged, or where it repeats over and over.
PacBio’s technology, however, looks at one molecule of DNA at a time, and can decode large stretches of it with high accuracy for a higher price of around $12,000 for a single genome. Illumina’s CEO argues that, unlike rival Oxford Nanopore’s reads, the mistakes made by PacBio technology are random, meaning that doing enough reads will remove them entirely.
With its new purchase, Illumina intends to update the technology and bring the cost down, potentially to around $1,000 in the future.