Life Technologies Buys Navigenics in New Gene Diagnostics Strategy

Xconomy San Diego — 

Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), the Carlsbad, CA-based maker of gene sequencing equipment, says today it has acquired Navigenics, the venture-backed startup in Foster City, CA, that provides personalized genomics testing for consumers.

Life says the deal represents the company’s first step in a strategy to build out its molecular diagnostics business through select acquisitions, internal development, and partnerships. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Navigenics was co-founded in 2006 by David Agus, a leading cancer researcher and professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California and geneticist Dietrich Stephan, the founding CEO of Silicon Valley Biosystems. Navigenics has raised at least $43 million in venture funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and Procter & Gamble

“Genetic analysis is becoming increasingly accessible, cost-effective and a critical part of patient clinical management,” Agus said in a statement. “As a result, physicians have more complete and accurate information about the patient than ever before, which is translating into more effective, individualized care programs for patients.”

The Life Technologies statement also quotes Greg Lucier, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, saying, “The Navigenics informatics platform allows us to now transform the data from our instrument systems into actionable information and deliver it in real time to physicians around the world.”

Life Technologies says it plans to use Navigenics’ expertise to develop new diagnostic assays and to help execute the company’s strategy as it expands its products and services in molecular diagnostics. Navigenics initially developed technologies to assess an individual’s genetic risk for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and celiac disease.

In 2008, the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego unveiled plans to carry out a 20-year study under a partnership with Navigenics, Microsoft, and Affymetrix to assess how people respond to the individualized results of their own personal genetic testing. Eric Topol, director of Scripps Translational Science Institute is principal investigator of the study, known officially as the Scripps Genomic Health Initiative. With as many as 10,000 people participating, he has said the study is intended to evaluate the effects of state-of-the-art genetic testing on individual lifestyles, behaviors, diets, and psyches.

Asked today if the Navigenics deal would affect the 20-year study, Topol replied briefly in an email, saying, “We don’t anticipate any effect for the cohort we are following and the acquisition presents new, expanded opportunities going forward for exome and whole genome sequencing.”