Adaptive Biotechnologies snatches up Sequenta to gain ground in cancer immunosequencing

Adaptive CEO Chad Robins

Adaptive Biotechnologies snatched up immune sequencing company Sequenta for an undisclosed sum to further the companies' immunosequencing efforts and grab a bigger piece of a rapidly growing market.

Seattle, WA-based Adaptive develops next-generation sequencing tools to profile T-cell and B-cell receptors in the immune system and measure minimal residual disease (MRD), but mainly focuses on providing services to researchers. Sequenta develops similar technology to monitor MRD in individuals with blood cancer. The companies plan to expand R&D for the immunosequencing platform as part of the deal and ramp up commercialization of the technology for measuring MRD in blood cancer patients.

"Over the past few months it has become increasingly clear that joining forces with Sequenta would accelerate our ability to make the promise of immunosequencing a reality for physicians and patients," Adaptive CEO Chad Robins said in a statement. "By combining our resources, we can increase the number of clinical trials we are able to run to validate clinical applications of immunosequencing, and explore new and innovative research and development initiatives that neither of us would have been able to do alone."

Robins will steward the combined company, while Sequenta co-founder and CEO Tom Willis and co-founder and chief scientific officer Malek Faham will join its senior leadership team. Sequenta's chairman, John Stuelpnagel, will join the company's board of directors along with Willis.

The deal comes at a critical moment for Adaptive as the company strives to diversify its existing portfolio and attract new funding. In April 2014, Adaptive completed two rounds of financing, netting $120 million to expand sales of its clonoSEQ diagnostic product and beef up the company's next-generation immunoSEQ research platform. Robins told FierceMedicalDevices that the company plans to sell its diagnostic kits for clinical purposes and allow customers to use its platform to perform immunosequencing in-house.

Sequenta also stands to benefit from the deal, charting recent revenue growth and catching the eye of big-name investors. In October 2014, the company picked up new equity funding from Celgene ($CELG) to incorporate its ClonoSIGHT gene sequencing-based cancer test into clinical trials for drugs to treat various blood cancers and to create new clinical diagnostics for MRD based on its LymphoSIGHT lab-testing platform. In November, Sequenta inked a deal with diagnostic giant Illumina ($ILMN) to commercialize a testing kit that detects MRD in cancer patients.

- read Adaptive Biotechnologies' statement

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