Qiagen pays $40M to work with Natera on prenatal screening tests

The GeneReader NGS System (Qiagen)

Qiagen has paid Natera $40 million to bring noninvasive prenatal screening tests to its GeneReader NGS System. The upfront payment sets Qiagen up to develop cell-free DNA assays with Natera for the next decade.

Hilden, Germany-based Qiagen has grown its NGS division into a $115 million-a-year business on the strength of an oncology-focused menu of tests. But the molecular diagnostics player is now looking beyond cancer to secure future growth. That thinking has led Qiagen to bring Natera on board to support the expansion of its test menu.

In return for $40 million in upfront payments and royalties, plus up to $10 million in milestones and ongoing royalties, Qiagen has secured a 10-year relationship with cell-free DNA specialist Natera. The goal of the collaboration is to develop assays that slot into Qiagen’s NGS workflow.

The partnership covers a range of applications, but Qiagen focused its discussion of its priorities on prenatal screening. That reflects the focus of Natera, which is best known for its reproductive testing arm. Tests offered by Natera show the risk of a baby having genetic disorders, diagnose single-gene disorders, count the chromosomes of embryos and offer insights into why a miscarriage happened.

Qiagen hopes to combine Natera’s expertise in this field with its existing capabilities in the collection and processing of cell-free DNA to differentiate between fetal and maternal DNA and expand access to prenatal screening. 

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For Natera, the partnership gives it upfront and ongoing income, plus the chance to improve the workflows that support its tests while making them available more widely. 

“We are combining Natera's molecular and clinical experience in NGS content development with Qiagen's expertise in offering a complete and integrated NGS workflow to offer sample to insight testing leveraging Natera's Constellation cloud platform,” Natera CEO Matthew Rabinowitz said in a statement. 

“We also believe the global reach of Qiagen will help us capitalize on the emergence and power of next-generation sequencing globally, and make these assays broadly accessible to hospital systems and laboratories worldwide.”