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Life Tech Expects Early Access for Single-Molecule Sequencer in 2010/11, Focuses on Accuracy


By Julia Karow

Life Technologies said this week that it expects early-access testing for its single-molecule DNA sequencer to take place in 2010 and 2011, at least six months after competitor Pacific Biosciences plans to ship its first instruments to early-access customers.

Previously, Life Tech had said that early-access for the instrument would start in late 2010, followed by commercialization in 2011 (see In Sequence 2/10/2009).

The platform, which builds on technology developed by VisiGen Biotechnologies, which Life Tech’s Invitrogen division acquired last year, uses quantum dot labeling and will be able to produce "ultra-long reads," according to Life Tech Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier, who spoke at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference in New York this week.

Initially, the platform will be "not perfectly directed to human medicine yet, but it will be in time," he added.

In a question-and-answer session following the presentation, Life Tech President and COO Mark Stevenson stressed that the company is currently focusing on the accuracy of the platform, which he said some single-molecule sequencing competitors that he did not name might not pay enough attention to. "We are making sure we get the fundamental chemistry right, so when we come out, we not only have long reads but also good accuracy," he said.

Stevenson added that Life Tech plans to provide more information about the status of its single-molecule sequencing platform next year.

Pacific Biosciences, which is also working on a long-read single-molecule DNA sequencing technology, said this week that it has started collaborations with a number of research groups and plans to ship an early commercial version of its system to early-access customers during the first half of next year (see related article in this issue).