Oxford Nanopore
Oxford Nanopore

Oxford Nanopore Technologies has attracted a £50 million ($66 million) equity investment from Amgen, the companies said today—the second major financing for the U.K. sequencing technology developer this year.

The companies said Amgen’s investment aligned with the biotech giant’s strategic focus on using human genetics to develop new treatments. Amgen’s deCODE Genetics subsidiary—which applies human genetic data toward diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease—uses Oxford Nanopore’s sequencing technologies to conduct genome research, including the identification and validation of new targets.

Oxford Nanopore is the developer of the pocket-sized MinION real-time DNA/RNA sequencer and other nanopore analysis devices. The company’s proprietary sequencing technology uses nanopores in combination with electronics to perform direct, real-time sequencing of DNA and RNA. The technology ranges in scale from pocket-sized to very high throughput benchtop devices, and according to the company can sequence very long fragments of DNA or RNA

In addition to MinION and the GridION X5 desktop nanopore analysis device, the company has expanded its offerings with the PromethION benchtop high-throughput modular sequencer, designed to enable sub-$1,000 nanopore-only human genomes.

PrometION is intended to run at any time up to 48 flow cells, each of which allows up to 3,000 nanopores to be sequencing simultaneously, with a potential to yield up to 15 Tb in 48 hours for the whole device.

“Oxford Nanopore’s long-read sequencing capability creates a window into parts of the genome that have been out of reach, as well as giving us a much better handle on structural variants that confer risk of a wide variety of diseases,” Kári Stefánsson, founder of deCODE Genetics, said in a statement. “We have used Oxford Nanopore technology to sequence several hundred human genomes and continue to see the promise of this emerging technology.”

Amgen plans to carry out its investment by purchasing ordinary shares in privately-held Oxford Nanopore, based on the same price per-share as was paid by investors in Oxford Nanopore’s financing of £100 million ($130.8 million), completed in March at an undisclosed price. At the time, Oxford Nanopore said it planned to use the proceeds toward commercial expansion efforts, including a new manufacturing facility, and the development of new products.

As a biotechnology pioneer, Amgen has demonstrated what can be achieved for society through innovation and a deep understanding of genetics,” said Gordon Sanghera, chief executive officer of Oxford Nanopore. “We are delighted to welcome them as a shareholder.”

Oxford Nanopore finished 2017 with £13.787 million ($18 million) in revenues, triple the £4.529 million ($5.9 million) it generated in 2016, according to the company’s annual report, filed with Companies House, an executive agency sponsored by the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The U.S. accounted for the largest share, nearly one-third (32%) of total sales or £4.471 million ($5.8 million), followed by Europe excluding the U.K., which generated £4.103 million ($5.4 million, or nearly 30%).

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