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BGI expands with new Seattle office

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 16-Dec-2016 at 09:36 GMT2016-12-16T09:36:47Z

BGI played a role in the 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany
BGI played a role in the 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany

BGI is to form a new division - BGI Groups USA - to be based in Seattle.

The genomics organization headquartered in Shenzhen, China works in genomic sequencing, precision medicine, agriculture, bioinformatics and related technologies.

It plans to expand partnerships with universities, companies and health and agriculture-related organizations and support product development and investment from the city.

One partnership is with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on genomic tools to improve global health and agricultural development.

The firm said it sequenced the genome of E. coli within three days upon receipt of bacteria samples during the outbreak in Germany in 2011.

BGI has offices in China, Japan, Denmark, Australia and the US with more than 40 labs or joint labs globally.

It claims to have made breakthroughs in sequencing the genomes of crops and microbes and to be the largest genomics center producing a quarter of the world's genomic data.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who visited BGI Shenzhen headquarters in May as part of a trade mission said BGI is a ‘pioneer’ in DNA sequencing.

“BGI can help strengthen the community of scientists and engineers in Seattle who are working to solve global issues and improve lives.”

BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a California-based sequencing technology company in 2013.

Based on CG's technology, it launched high-throughput next-gen sequencers, BGISEQ-500 and BGISEQ-50 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The firm also operates the China National GeneBank, which opened in Shenzhen in September and contains more than 10 million genetic samples from humans, plants, animals and microbes.

Curetis granted exclusive rights excluding certain areas

Meanwhile, Curetis has acquired the real-time qPCR-based Gyronimo Platform from Carpegen and Systec.

The firm will be granted exclusive worldwide rights to the platform, including to sublicense, partner or sell it, with an exemption for Carpegen and Systec in environmental and food safety testing.

Gyronimo offers a time to result of 60 minutes, qualitative and quantitative real-time PCR testing in a cartridge format that can provide up to 10 parallel multiplex qPCR reactions from one sample.

Dr Antje Rötger, CEO of Carpegen, said: "We will benefit substantially from the ultimate commercial success of the platform and we have retained certain areas that are of direct commercial interest to us, such as dental testing and environmental and food safety testing.

“To this end, we have agreed that we may discuss a possible OEM partnership with Curetis at a future point in time to obtain Gyronimo instruments and cartridges for our own commercial purposes.”

Curetis will pay €5m in cash and Carpegen and Systec are eligible for two milestone payments upon platform and first cartridge CE marking and FDA clearance, respectively, up to €2.5m.

There will also be potential for a royalty-based earn-out at an industry-typical mid-single digit percentage rate, up to a maximum of €9m.

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