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Complete Genomics Shipped 600 Genomes in Q1; Plans to Expand to Asia in 2013


By Monica Heger

This article, originally published on April 15, has been modified to include predictions from a recently released analyst report.

Complete Genomics shipped 600 genomes to customers in the first quarter of 2011 — a 20 percent increase over estimates that it provided in mid-March — and plans to open new facilities in Asia in 2013, a company official said last week.

Speaking at the Future Leaders in Biotech Industry Conference last week in New York, CEO Clifford Reid gave an overview of the company, its current sequencing projects, and future direction.

The shipment of 600 genomes in the first quarter is higher than the more conservative estimate of 500 genomes that the company provided last month (IS 3/15/2011).

Reid said the company currently claims around 40 percent of the research market for whole-genome sequencing, which he estimated at about $50 million. By 2015, he said, that will jump to $900 million.

Reid also said that he considers Complete to be one of "three major players" in the market, along with Life Technologies and Illumina. He noted, however, that Life Tech has recently shifted its focus to the Ion Torrent PGM, so that the high-throughput whole-genome sequencing market is now a "two-horse race" between Complete and Illumina.

Investment firm William Blair this week began coverage of the company, and analyst Amanda Murphy gave the company an "Outperform" rating. In her report, she predicted that the company would garner 22 percent of the market by 2015, which she defined differently from Reid, including not only whole-genome sequencing for research purposes, but also whole human exome sequencing and the oncology clinical trials market.

The oncology clinical trials market could be a "significant opportunity for the company, totaling around $300 million in revenue potential by 2015," she wrote.

Murphy also estimated Complete's first-quarter revenues at $4.5 million and 2011 total revenues at $34.2 million. Additionally, she predicted the company would ship around 4,600 genomes in 2011, 19,000 in 2012, and around 45,000 in 2013. Currently, it has orders for around 3,500 genomes.

In Reid's talk, which was webcast, he reiterated previous comments that while the company is currently focused on the research market, it is rapidly moving into the clinical arena and sees its biggest opportunity in cancer pathology. He disclosed that the company is also looking into using its technology for pediatric diagnostics.

An important aspect of moving into the clinical space will be in bringing down the cost of sequencing, he noted.

Currently, the company offers whole-genome sequencing for between $5,500 and $9,500 per genome, depending on the size of the order. By the end of the year, the cost will be below $5,000, and the company expects that by next year it will offer whole-genome sequencing for below $3,000 — a price that Reid said would help drive it into the clinical market.

Already, several clinical applications are coming to the market, he said, including pediatric diagnostics. About 200,000 children each year are given a "failure to thrive" diagnosis for an unknown disorder. "Sequencing those genomes will be a key hint to how to treat them properly," he said.

The company is currently working with several customers on pilot projects in this area, he said.

Additionally, "as prices come down to $2,000 to $3,000, which will happen in the next couple years, then the clinical trials market comes online," Reid said. Also, at the $2,000 level, he thinks whole-genome sequencing of every cancer patient's tumor and matched normal DNA will be commonplace. "Our long-term vision for the company is very much in the cancer pathology area," he said.

Last month, the company disclosed several improvements and upgrades it is making to its technology, including the launch of its "long fragment reads" technology to early access customers in the fourth quarter of this year.

The technology allows for whole-genome haplotyping, a critical component in clinical sequencing, Reid said today, and is something that no sequencing platform can currently do.

Additionally, it plans to increase the throughput of its machines from 1.25 terabases to 2.25 terabases by the end of this year.

Moving forward, Reid said that the company will open additional facilities in 2013, both to expand its capacity, but "partly to access customers, particularly in Asia."

Have topics you'd like to see covered by In Sequence? Contact the editor at mheger [at] genomeweb [.] com.