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Pacific Biosciences

The firm disclosed that it is collaborating with six early-access customers, including Monsanto and the Scripps Institute, on a variety of sequencing projects. It will soon finalize the list of institutions that will receive an early commercial version of its SMRT sequencer during the first half of next year.

At the Personal Genomes conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory last week, PacBio Chief Technology Officer Steve Turner showed that the company's platform can distinguish methylated from unmethylated bases for two types of nucleotides, and is able in principle to sequence RNA directly.

The funding will support PacBio's effort to launch its SMRT sequencing system in the second half of 2010, and will also serve as a financial "buffer" as the company looks to pursue an initial public offering or other large-scale financing effort some time next year.

The company is preparing to launch its SMRT DNA sequencer in late 2010.

Patents of Note

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Sequencing-Related US Patents Granted June 24 – July 21

PacBio and Life Technologies, which owns VisiGen, are developing potentially rivaling real-time, single-molecule sequencing platforms, and the interference shows they claim ownership to related IP.

Sequencing

The USPTO named Pac Bio the senior party in a patent interference with Life Technologies regarding single-molecule sequencing technology and methods.

The Houston-based startup plans to commercialize the reagents, called Lightning Terminators, for use with at least one existing sequencing platform. Long term, it wants to develop its own sequencing instrument for applications in personalized genomics.

Patents of Note

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Sequencing-Related US Patents Granted Jan. 27 — March 3

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The US Patent and Trademark Office is opening another interference proceeding in the CRISPR patent fight.

There's increasing genetic evidence that a number of ancient hominins may have contributed to the human gene pool, according to Discover's The Crux blog.

The Japan News writes that Japan needs to seize the opportunity to ensure that a wide number of people benefit from personalized cancer treatments.

In Cell this week: messenger RNA expression and translation, RNA localization atlas, and more.