Bio-Rad to Shut Down Cambridge R&D Site in Consolidation

Bio-Rad to Shut Down Cambridge R&D Site in Consolidation October 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRDIGE, Mass. – California-based Bio-Rad is shuttering a research and development facility in the white-hot biotech hub of Cambridge, Mass. An unknown number of layoffs is expected from the decision.

In September Bio-Rad announced it was closing its Digital Biology Center Cambridge and consolidating the R&D activities with its Digital Biology Group in California, GenomeWeb reported. Some employees were expected to lose their jobs as a result of the plan, but the company has not provided details, according to the report. A Bio-Rad spokesperson told GenomeWeb that the company had yet to determine how many DBCC staff members will transition to California. There are approximately 170 employees at the Cambridge facility.

Bio-Rad gained the Cambridge space when it acquired privately-held GnuBio in 2014. Massachusetts-based GnuBio was a developer of an integrated droplet-based DNA sequencing technology that incorporates all the functions of DNA sequencing into a single, integrated workflow for medical diagnostics as well as research markets.

As part of the site consolidation Bio-Rad will primarily turn its attention to Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) technology. In June the company launched its ddPCR Genome Edit Detection Assays, the first tests to characterize edits generated by CRISPR-Cas9 or other genome editing tools. Bio-Rad said its ddPCR technology is well suited for the task of genome editing. The company said the technology is able to empower scientists to “precisely evaluate the efficiency of their experiment in less time and at lower cost than with any other method.” The company said that its technology partitions samples into thousands of droplets and “increases the signal-to-noise ratio, which allows users to quantify extremely rare edits.”

Also in June Bio-Rad launched its CFX Maestro Software, a workflow solution for real-time PCR data collection and analysis. The company said the software enables researchers to set up and run qPCR experiments “with ease.”

GnuBio isn’t the only Massachusetts-based sequencing company acquired by Bio-Rad. In January the company snapped up RainDance Technologies in an all-cash deal. RainDance, based in Billerica, Mass., has its own droplet technology that enables research in areas such as non-invasive liquid biopsy. The RainDance facility that came with the acquisition will not be impacted by the closing of the Digital Biology Center Cambridge, GenomeWeb reported.

Bio-Rad reported second quarter sales of $504.7 million in August. Sales were slightly down in comparison to the first quarter the company said. Bio-Rad executives attributed the downturn in sales “to a slowdown in productivity related to the recent go-live of our global ERP system in Western Europe.”

Shares of Bio-Rad were up on Friday. Shares closed at $226.26.

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