Illumina Acquires Pacific Biosciences for $1.2 Billion

The deal to acquire its rival, Pacific Biosciences, will provide Illumina with a more comprehensive sequencing test at a lower cost.

DNA sequencing giant Illumina, Inc. is about to get a little bit bigger. Shares of Illumina are climbing in after-hours trading after the company announced it will acquire gene sequencing company Pacific Biosciences for $1.2 billion.

The acquisition, which was at an $8 per share price, a 71 percent premium, is expected to bring together highly accurate short- and long-read sequencing technology. In its announcement, Illumina said the deal will pave “the path to a more perfect view of a genome.” Illumina said its short-read sequencing platforms address the majority of sequencing applications, there are some applications that are better addressed with long-reads. Illumina pointed to de novo sequencing and sequencing of highly homologous regions of genomes, as the types of applications that are better addressed with accurate long-reads. With the Pacific Bio technology, Illumina said it will be positioned to “provide integrated workflows and novel innovations that bring together the best of both technologies to help researchers advance their discoveries faster and clinicians offer new tests economically.”

Francis deSouza, president and chief executive officer of Illumina, said Pacific Bio’s long-read sequencing technology has an “unmatched accuracy” that mirrors Illumina’s short-read sequencing.

“Combining the two technologies positions us to reach more applications, accelerate the pace of genomic discovery and bolster our innovation engine which has been a hallmark of Illumina since our inception,” deSouza said in a statement. “PacBio’s relentless pursuit to improve sequencing accuracy, while driving down the cost, underscores the potential of long-reads to expand sequencing to new customers and applications.”

Michael Hunkapiller, CEO of Pacific Biosciences, said thousands of researchers will have direct access to the sequencing technology due to the Illumina deal. He said San Diego-based Illumina continues to “democratize” the use of sequencing at an unprecedented rate.”

Pacific BioSciences developed the sequencing technology known as SMRT -- Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT). The company said its technology offers the most comprehensive view of genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes—including the full spectrum of genetic variation—by providing the longest average read lengths, highest consensus accuracy, and most uniform coverage of any sequencing technology on the market today.”

Illumina and Pacific Biosciences have shared values and a commitment to innovation. Our complementary sequencing technology, once integrated, will offer customers a new standard of insight and understanding, opening new frontiers of genomic utility,” Hunkapiller said.

Illumina expects to close the transaction in mid-2019.

For Illumina, the deal for Pacific Biosciences comes two days after the company launched TruSight Oncology 500 (TSO 500), a comprehensive pan-cancer assay designed to identify known and emerging tumor biomarkers. The new platform uses both DNA and RNA from subject tumor samples to identify key somatic variants underlying tumor progressions, such as small DNA variants, fusions, and splice variants, the company said.