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Roundup from the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – This week, several companies involved in the molecular tools and diagnostics space presented at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conferences held here. While GenomeWeb Daily News covered some of those firms in separate articles on Monday through Wednesday, below is a summary of what some of the other firms had to say at the conference.

Pacific Biosciences CEO Hugh Martin told attendees that the firm is collaborating with six early-access customers, including Monsanto and the Scripps Institute, on a variety of sequencing projects. The firm still expects a commercial launch of its single-molecule real-time sequencing platform in the second half of next year.

He also said that the company will initially focus on sequencing in the cancer and infectious disease areas, which he believes are areas in which Pac Bio can differentiate itself.

Martin cautioned, however, that the firm will have to "think about customer diversity" when making its initial sales next year, because there are "only so many instruments" it can manufacture in 2010 and the year after. He also noted that the firm's board of directors decided in June to build out Pac Bio's own commercial operations, which was "effectively a vote by the board to become an independent public company." He said that Pac Bio has "a strong desire" to go public and will "think about an IPO" next year if the market conditions are right.

Pac Bio is working on increasing the throughput of its machine and hopes that over the long term it will generate 100 gigabases of sequence per hour. Martin also said that he expects its first commercial instruments to have a run time of 15 minutes and be able to complete an experiment, including sample prep, in a single day — a feat other commercial sequencers, except for Roche 454, cannot currently accomplish.

(A more in-depth article on Pac Bio's presentation and a follow-up interview is available on GWDN sister publication In Sequence).

Life Technologies Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier told investors that the firm, which sells the SOLiD next-generation sequencer, will have an early access launch in late 2010 for its own single molecule sequencing technology, which it will plans to fully commercialize in 2011.

He also reiterated earlier statements that the firm expects at least $100 million in revenues associated with the NIH's stimulus package starting in the fourth quarter of this year. In addition, he said that following the firm's sale of its half of the mass spec joint venture with MDS to Danaher, Life Technologies' "divestitures are over now." Lucier also noted that the company is looking for bolt-on acquisitions.

Caliper Life Sciences President and CEO Kevin Hrusovsky discussed a few key launches for the firm. The first, its IVIS Lumina XR, came this week at the World Molecular Imaging Conference in Montreal. The system combines highly sensitive bioluminescence and fluorescence molecular optical imaging with digital x-ray.

The second launch, which is expected at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in February 2010, will be Caliper's fractionation product for next-generation sequencing applications. The third key upcoming launch for the firm is the planned 2011 introduction of an automated Western blotting product.

PerkinElmer Chairman and CEO Robert Friel cautioned investors that the company's orders will be down in the second half. He said that the medical imaging sector has been hit hardest by the economic downturn, followed by the industrial markets, such as petrochemical, that the firm serves.

Currently, PerkinElmer derives around 40 percent of its revenues from its Human Health segment, with the other 60 percent coming from the Environmental Health segment.

Friel said that the firm is focused on building out its diagnostics breadth and footprint, expanding its service offering through its OneSource business, broadening its consumables and reagents portfolio, and taking on productivity initiatives aimed at driving margin expansion.

Myriad Genetics President and CEO Peter Meldrum said that the firm is looking to launch one new molecular diagnostics product each year. It has been building up its sales force, which now includes around 300 people, and has launched direct to consumer campaigns in the South and Midwest aimed at raising awareness of breast and ovarian screening, for which it offers the BRACAnalysis test.

In addition, Meldrum noted that Myriad's revenues are derived overwhelmingly from sales in the US. The company hopes to expand its presence in Europe over the next three years, and Meldrum said that acquiring labs in Europe would be a priority for the company.

For previous coverage this week from the UBS Conference, please see GWDN's articles on Agilent, Fluidigm, Illumina, and Cepheid.

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