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UPDATE: Biosearch Acquires Majority Stake in LightSpeed Genomics

The story has been updated to include comments by a Biosearch official about LightSpeed's next-gen sequencing development efforts.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Biosearch Technologies today announced it has acquired a majority stake in LightSpeed Genomics for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., LightSpeed is developing an optical detection technology called Synthetic Aperture Optics, or SAO, for the life science and diagnostics market. It and Biosearch are collaborating to develop a gene expression platform called StellarVision, which is optimized to work with Biosearch's Stellaris RNA FISH assays for detecting and quantifying single molecule RNA targets within individual cells.

"Current gene expression systems destroy cellular integrity then rescue messenger RNA with multiple amplification steps to provide an indirect 'average' of expression," Marc Beal, director of corporate development and licensing at Biosearch, said in a statement. "In contrast, StellarVision directly interrogates single cells, single molecules, and quantifies mRNA, lncRNA and viral RNA while imaging hundreds of cells with statistical significance in a single large field of view."

LightSpeed's SAO technology enables massively parallelized optical detection, Biosearch said, combining coherent interferometric illumination and computational image reconstruction "to achieve ultra-high resolution that is far beyond the native resolution of the lens and the camera."

The StellarVision platform, which is based on the SAO technology, can analyze hundreds of cell simultaneously within a single field of view using a 20x air lens with resolution comparable to 100x oil immersion lens or higher, Biosearch added.

LightSpeed was founded in 2006 by Josh Ryu, Stanley Hong, and others, and was originally called Solametrix. Initially headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., the company developed optical detection technology for sequencing applications. Its sequencing platform was based on technology developed by Ryu and others at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2008 LightSpeed underwent a restructuring and secured new investors, as In Sequence previously reported.

In an e-mail to GenomeWeb Daily News, Beal said that while LightSpeed's prototype sequencing platform "successfully demonstrated SAO’s unique imaging capability to accurately detect ultra-high density sequencing features and exceeded projected performance specifications ... the competitive saturation in the next-gen market reduced the commercial attractiveness of this market."

He added that the Stellaris technology is a new technology "synergistically enabled by SAO optical methodology. This technology, Stellarvision, is the principal priority of LightSpeed's technical development program."