Bio-Rad boosts liquid biopsy chops with RainDance buy

Billerica, Massachusetts-based RainDance specializes in droplet-based genomic tools.

Bio-Rad has kicked off 2017 with a bang, announcing it has inked a deal to acquire genetic analysis player RainDance Technologies for an undisclosed amount. The news comes a week after Bio-Rad and Illumina debuted their NGS solution for single-cell analysis.

Billerica, Massachusetts-based RainDance specializes in droplet-based genomic tools, which labs and research institutions use to investigate genetic variations in a range of diseases as well as to research liquid biopsy.

It markets the low-cost NGS target-enriching system, ThunderBolts, as well as the RainDrop Plus Digital PCR system. Digital PCR is gaining ground as an alternative to traditional PCR as it returns more accurate results. Droplet-based tech divides the PCR reaction into many smaller reactions. Greater accuracy is especially important in liquid biopsy, where researchers are trying to catch cancer earlier by pinpointing circulating tumor cells in the blood.

"[RainDance’s] droplet-based solutions will extend our reach into next-generation sequencing applications and strengthen our position in the area of Droplet Digital PCR,” Bio-Rad CEO Norman Schwartz said in a statement. “We look forward to expanding our offering to provide life science and clinical diagnostics customers with solutions for a wide range of nucleic acid detection applications."

The deal is slated to close in the first quarter.

RainDance announced in March 2015 that it would file for a $60 million IPO, but withdrew five months later due to “market conditions.”