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ABI, Breaking Silence, Says It Is Working on Next-Generation Sequencing Technologies

NEW YORK, Sept. 29 (GenomeWeb News) - Applied Biosystems President Cathy Burzik acknowledged yesterday that the firm is working on next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, but said the company is not ready to provide details.


ABI has "a number of approaches under development," she said during a Q&A session following her presentation at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference, held here this week. Burzik said a "cluster approach" was one possibility for development, but she declined to provide further details, saying that the firm is working on patent filings.


Company officials have been asked frequently over the past year about whether ABI is developing any technologies that would eventually replace its capillary electrophoresis sequencing instruments. Industry insiders also are keen to learn whether ABI plans to partner with or acquire one of the many firms developing alternative sequencing technologies. Up until now, ABI had declined to answer those questions.


At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Franciscoin April, Burzik said that the firm had identified 35 companies that were developing the alternative approaches, such as single-molecule sequencing and DNA clustering efforts. 454 Life Sciences, Agencourt Bioscience, Solexa, and Helicos BioSciences have the most advanced of these new technologies, with instruments either placed or soon to be placed at major research institutions.


However, these newer technologies are still several years away from delivering on the promise of the $1,000 genome. Lee Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, recently told GenomeWeb News, "My guess is that within 10 years there'll be new nanotechnology approaches that will ... make the human genome well under $1,000."


Burzik reiterated on Wednesday ABI's belief that the newer technologies are not going to make an impact over the next couple of years, and the firm does not see an end to the dominance of capillary electrophoresis in the DNA sequencing market. "We're very committed to sequencing," she said, noting that the firm has more than 12,000 capillary electrophoresis instruments installed worldwide.


A complete version of this article appears in the current issue of BioCommerce Week, a GenomeWeb News sister publication.

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