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Natera, BGI Genomics Ink $50M Deal to Develop, Launch Liquid Biopsy Tests in China, Elsewhere

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Natera and BGI Genomics said today that they have signed a $50 million partnership to commercialize Natera's circulating tumor DNA Signatera minimal residual disease (MRD) test in China and to develop reproductive health tests in "select markets," all using BGI's sequencing technology and instruments.

Under the 10-year agreement, BGI Genomics will pay Natera $50 million, including upfront licensing fees, prepaid royalties, and future milestone payments. In addition, Natera will obtain ongoing royalty payments. Natera will prepay BGI Genomics $6 million for sequencing services.

Natera and BGI Genomics will first offer the Signatera test through specialty hospital networks in China. After gaining regulatory approval for the test on BGI's sequencing technology, called DNBseq, the companies plan to offer Signatera more broadly in the country.

"Natera's decision to launch its Signatera test into China on BGI's DNBseq technology platform is a testament to both the quality and versatility of our technology," said BGI Genomics CEO Yin Ye in a statement.

The partnership will also "expand the reach of Natera's reproductive health technology in select markets, and we believe BGI has the capability to substantially reduce costs for offering our technology," said John Fesko, senior vice president of business development at Natera, in a statement.

The firms did not say in which countries they plan to offer reproductive health tests, or what types of tests. Natera's reproductive health testing portfolio currently includes carrier screening, noninvasive prenatal screening, single-gene NIPT, preimplantation genetic testing, and a miscarriage test.

San Carlos, California-based Natera has struck similar deals with other providers of sequencing technology in the past. "This deal complements our strategic partnerships with existing sequencing providers and does not alter our plans with them," Fesko said.

A year ago, for example, Natera signed a 10-year strategic partnership worth up to $50 million with Qiagen to develop cell-free DNA assays, including NIPT, on the Qiagen GeneReader NGS system. In addition, in 2016, Natera extended a supply agreement with Illumina for up to 10 years to obtain Illumina sequencing systems and consumables for NIPT, transplant biology, and oncology diagnostic tests.

BGI Genomics said it is the largest cell-free DNA clinical testing laboratory in China, performing more than 1 million cell-free DNA tests annually.