Oxford Nanopore wins over Amgen

Oxford Nanopore Technologies has impressed Amgen with its genetic sequencing technology. The US biopharma major has invested £50m in the Oxford-based company.


Privately owned Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd announced Amgen’s equity investment of £50m (€57m). Oxford Nanopore’s sequencing technology uses many nanopores – nano-scale holes made by proteins contained within a synthetic membrane – in combination with electronics to perform direct, real-time sequencing of DNA and RNA. The technology ranges in scale from pocket-sized to very high-throughput benchtop devices and can sequence very long fragments of DNA or RNA. 

The investment in Oxford Nanopore aligns with Amgen’s strategic focus on using human genetics to deliver new medicines to patients. Amgen subsidiary deCODE Genetics, headquartered in Reykjavík, Iceland, uses Oxford Nanopore’s sequencing technologies to conduct genome research, including the identification and validation of new targets. “The study of human genetics continues to uncover insights into the diseases we face as a society,” said Kári Stefánsson, founder of deCODE Genetics. “Oxford Nanopore’s long-read sequencing capability creates a window into parts of the genome that have been out of reach, as well as giving us a much better handle on structural variants that confer risk of a wide variety of diseases. We have used Oxford Nanopore technology to sequence several hundred human genomes and continue to see the promise of this emerging technology.”

Oxford Nanopore was founded in 2005 to develop a disruptive, electronic, single-molecule sensing system based on nanopore science. The first product, MinION, was introduced into early access in 2014 and made commercially available in 2015. Today, the company has more than 350 employees. So far, it has raised £451m. 


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