QIAGEN Partners with Verogen to Bolster Forensics Field
One week after launching a dedicated CRISPR program, QIAGEN has partnered with San Diego-based Verogen to provide next-generation sequencing human identification workflows to laboratories in order to support forensic efforts from justice departments across the globe.
The two companies will collaborate to market Verogen’s forensically validated next generation sequencing (NGS) workflows alongside QIAGEN’s full range of forensic-grade chemistries and sample prep automation to provide a full sample to ID solutions for human identification laboratories. Under the partnership, Germany-based QIAGEN will have rights to globally distribute both current and future Verogen products.
Verogen’s tools aim to improve human identification beyond a DNA profile. Next generation sequencing is currently used in multiple biotech fields, including oncology research and testing for rare diseases. For the forensics field, NGS opens new opportunities to support law enforcement efforts to solve missing person cases, criminal cases and victims of disasters.
NGS provides additional capabilities, such as the estimation of externally visible characteristics like hair or eye color. The process elevates DNA testing from passive forensic support to a proactive investigational technique. The partnership is expected to offer forensic clients a higher level of end-to-end support across the globe, from sample collection to data interpretation and analysis.
Verogen Chief Executive Officer Brett Williams said the partnership with QIAGEN will make it easier for laboratories to provide impactful answers and will allow for the accelerated adoption of next-generation sequencing (NGS) in forensic operations.
Thiery Bernard, QIAGEN’s chief executive officer, said the partnership will combine Verogen’s innovative NGS workflows with QIAGEN’s portfolio of Sample to Insight solutions, which will create “the most comprehensive product offering for forensics applications.” He also said the partnership with Verogen will enable customers to gain greater insights from their casework samples and drive NGS adoption in human identification. He predicted the partnership will “ultimately strengthen justice systems all over the world.”
The deal with Verogen comes one week after QIAGEN launched its QIAprep & CRISPR Kit and CRISPR Q-Primer Solutions program that allows researchers to more closely analyze edited genetic material to determine how gene editing interventions have changed the function of DNA sequences in question. The CRISPR kits mark the company’s dedicated solutions for a fast-growing gene editing market.
The company said the CRISPR products provide research teams with an “all-in-one process” for the characterization of “so-called knock-outs generated from guide RNA (gRNA) and knock-ins from small insertions during gene editing.”
Thomas Schweins, head of Life Sciences at QIAGEN, said the new CRISPR tools will reduce the time to result in gene editing experiments. Cell cultivation requirements will be reduced by seven days compared to existing methods, Schweins said. The process is expected to accelerate research in gene editing.
“They give a further boost to CRISPR’s potential for breakthroughs in biomedical research into cancer, neurological conditions, gene therapy, cell therapy, immunotherapy, regenerative medicine, and disease modeling – and in the discovery of disease-signaling biomarkers and drug development,” Schweins said in a statement.
Despite the moves QIAGEN has made in recent weeks, hedge fund Davidson Kempner, which owns slightly less than 10% of QIAGEN, remains unhappy with the company’s leadership. This morning, the investors called for a change in leadership of the Supervisory Board. The hedge fund accused the current leadership of making decisions that have “negatively impacted the business and shareholders,” including the failed near-acquisition by Thermo Fisher Scientific last year. Although the company leadership unanimously supported the merger with Thermo Fisher, Davidson Kempner was opposed to the deal, calling the offer price too low. The deal ultimately fell through. The hedge fund is calling for board members Lawrence Rosen and Elizabeth Tallet to step down from the board.