COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Aug. 23 (GenomeWeb News) - Bob Waterston, head of the University of Washington's department of genome sciences, said he "likes" 454's genome sequencing technology.
"They've got the stake in the ground," Waterston told GenomeWeb News yesterday when asked whether he's been keeping tabs on any of the emerging sequencing tool shops. "It's not a lot cheaper than ABI, and it doesn't suffer data quality ... but at least they're out there. They've got a machine." Waterston made his comments on the sidelines of the 12th European Congress on Biotechnology, held at the University of Copenhagen this week.
Waterston's statement, which was strictly cordial and non-binding, is nevertheless noteworthy. As emerging gene sequencing-technology companies strive for traction, obtaining government funding becomes a critical goal. For example, the National Human Genome Research has doled out $70 million in grants since last October to a handful of shops developing less-expensive sequencing tools.
Hungry for a pinch of this cash, start-ups hope that well-known academics will take notice and bolster their cause. Helicos has Lee Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology and the Broad's Eric Lander, Harvard's George Grills has nice things to say about Visigen and Solexa, and even erstwhile sequencing shop US Genomics had Craig Venter.
Now 454, whose technology is more advanced than many of its contemporaries, has Waterston. Wonder how that squares with Solexa, on whose scientific advisory board Waterston sits?