March 30 Illumina (ILMN.O) and Life
Technologies(LIFE.O) are sitting at the top of the market for
genome sequencing, but next-generation companies with big ideas
to cut the cost of sequencing are nipping at their heels.
Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing
Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says there are
now 20 or so different sequencing companies trying new
Researchers say cheaper machines and the race by companies
to sequence the human genome for under $1,000 will create a
"golden era" of genomics.
Here are the companies that stand to benefit.
* 454 Life Sciences Corp, a Roche ROG.VX company, has
been considered the gold standard in next-generation
sequencing. Gibbs said it is quickly being outpaced by cheaper
machines, but Roche hopes to address this when it introduces
the GS Junior, a smaller, less expensive sequencer later this
* Pacific Biosystems, a private, Menlo Park, California,
biotech, is angling to be the new gold standard with the
expected launch of its $750,000 Single Molecule Real Time or
SMRT DNA sequencer in the second half of 2010.
The company won an Advanced Sequencing Technology Award
from the National Human Genome Research Institute to develop a
machine that can sequence the human genome for $1,000, which
analysts say could occur in the next five years.
* Privately held Complete Genomics Inc based in Mountain
View, California, says it can do a better quality, usable
genome map for about $4,400. Founded in 2006, Complete Genomics
plans an aggressive expansion this year and will open satellite
genome sequencing service centers around the world.
* Ion Torrent Systems Inc of Guilford, Connecticut, and San
Francisco, California, is working on a desktop-sized sequencer
that directly translates chemically encoded information -- the
A, C, G, T code of DNA into digital information -- the 0, 1
language of computers -- on a semiconductor chip. It expects to
launch the product later this year.
The company has some big minds behind it. It is advised by
Dr. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical
School, and its chief executive is Jonathan Rothberg, founder
of Roche's 454 Life Sciences until 2007.
* Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd has a sequencer that
measures changes in electrical signals as DNA snakes through
the tiny protein holes or pores on a silicon chip. It is one of
several trying this approach.
Last month, the company raised $28 million in new funding,
backed by existing investors Lansdowne Partners, IP Group and
Invesco Perpetual, new undisclosed U.S. institutions.
* Computing giant International Business Machines Corp
(IBM.N) in October said it was joining the race for the $1,000
genome by building a "DNA transistor" using a similar nanopore
* NABsys of Providence, Rhode Island, is developing a
system that merges semiconductors and genomics, with the hope
of sequencing a genome for under $100.
COMPUTING, ANALYZING SOLUTIONS
As sequencing equipment becomes faster and cheaper, the
machines will create huge demand for computing power, data
analysis and other support services to help researchers make
sense of all the data.
Here are some companies that hope to take up that slack.
* Agilent Technologies Inc (A.N), a leader in
communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical
analysis, offers the SureSelect Target Enrichment System, which
helps geneticists analyze larger numbers of samples.
* Amazon.com's (AMZN.O) Amazon Web Services offers data
storage products through so-called cloud computing, in which
data is stored remotely on servers in data centers.
* GenomeQuest of Westborough, Massachusetts, offers cloud
data storage plus a service that helps researchers manage, mine
and share sequence data from a simple browser.
* Geospiza of Seattle offers cloud computing and solutions
for crunching vast amounts of genetic data through its
GeneSifter data analysis product. Companies with similar
products include LabVantage of Bridgewater, New Jersey, and
Partek of St. Louis.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen, editing by Maggie Fox and