F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., which last week committed up to $70 million to a genomics partnership with startup Millenium Pharmaceuticals Inc., is making a big play in a technology that it considers the revolutionary foundation for its push into novel drugs.

Genomics - the development of therapeutics through the identification of disease-causing genes and their cellular functions - is "the single most important revolution since recombinant DNA technology was invented," said Michael Steinmetz, Roche vice president of research and development.