Roche has signed a five year deal with a unit of CuraGen Corp – 454 Life Sciences - for the latter’s gene sequencing technology that will allow the Swiss giant to decode genes 100 times faster than current offerings.

A single instrument can produce over 20 million nucleotide bases per four hour run, totaling more than 100 times the capacity of instruments using the current macro-scale technology.

“Customer feedback and our own research show that one of the main limitations of today’s approaches to sequencing is throughput. This new technology will significantly increase the speed of sequencing, and thereby has the potential to open up many new applications for sequencing to researchers all over the world,” stated Heino von Prondzynski, chief executive of Roche Diagnostics and Member of the Roche Executive Committee. “Roche Diagnostics can enter now a new and very attractive market that complements our strong position in research applications.”

Under the terms of the five-year deal, 454 Life Sciences – which began commercialization of its instrument systems and reagents during the first quarter of this year - will receive up to $62 million dollars in license fees, milestone fees, royalties and research funding.