Life Sciences Insight

Element Biosciences acquires Loop Genomics to add long-read tech to DNA sequencing platform

Element Biosciences hasn’t even launched its first benchtop DNA sequencing platform yet, but that hasn’t stopped it from raising hundreds of millions of dollars and, now, using that funding to acquire new technologies to build out the platform.

The San Diego-based tech developer has acquired Loop Genomics, it announced this week, marking the first acquisition since Element’s 2017 founding.

Financial terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed, and while the privately held Loop hasn’t released any information about its annual earnings, its last publicly announced funding round arrived in 2018 when it raised $8 million in series A financing.

With the close of the deal, Tuval Ben-Yehezkel, Ph.D., the CEO and founder of Loop, has been named senior director of applications on Element’s leadership team.

“Loop Genomics has successfully commercialized innovative products that bring long-read resolution to short-read platforms in a wide variety of genetic analysis applications. We are thrilled to have the Loop Genomics team join us on our journey to open the world of biology to new possibilities,” said Molly He, Ph.D., Element’s CEO and co-founder.

Loop’s software uses PCR technology to amplify individual strands of DNA on a short-read sequencing platform. It attaches unique “barcodes” to random sections of each copy of the genetic material, then sequences each of those copied segments. The resulting data are combined back into a single molecule, using the overlapping segments to simulate long-read sequencing data from lower-cost short-read systems.

The technology will slot into Element’s own short-read sequencer, which is being designed to perform a wide range of genetic analyses for diagnostics developers and for scientists conducting life sciences research.

“Element’s new sequencer, now armed with long-read capabilities, is positioned to disrupt the genomics space. We are excited to join forces with the team at Element and are looking forward to providing our customers with superior short- and long-read sequencing products,” Tuval Ben-Yehezkel said in a statement.

To prepare the system for its primetime debut, Element racked up one of medtech’s largest funding rounds of 2021. In June, it closed its series C with a $276 million total, more than doubling its previous fundraising efforts to bring its lifetime haul to about $400 million.

At the time, He—an alum of Element competitor (and neighbor) Illumina—said the deluge of funds would not only allow Element to ramp up its plans to bring the sequencer to market but also help the company further develop the suite of biology tools it’s offering for genomics research.

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