Roche Closes 454 But Company Not Out of Next-Gen Yet

Roche Closes 454 But Company Not Out of Next-Gen Yet

In Kalorama’s report, "Next Generation Sequencing Trends," our survey discovered that while 75% of labs had an Illumina sequencer, less than a third had a Roche brand sequencer and it was not generally part of our surveyed labs’ purchasing plans.  Roche’s recent move confirms our findings and admists market reality. 

  This month, Roche announced the  closing its wholly-owned subsidiary 454 Life Sciences  and laying off the company’s 130 employees. They will keep making sequencers, however, through mid-2016; the layoffs will be phased over this period.  
 
Roche is the #1 IVD company, on the stength of its presence in traditional chemistry, immunoassays and growth from its molecular diagnostics.   Sequenicng is an area where other innovators have focused on improvments and in so doing, eclipsed the giant.  Next-generation sequencers like Illumina’s MiSeq and the Ion Proton by Ion Torrent,  Roche tried to takeover Illumina was thwarted in April of 2012, and this April, Roche 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.

Competing head to head with branded sequencer models may not be the best strategy in any case.  The company is not leaving sequencing, and Roche has 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.