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Aiming for Q2 2012 Launch, GnuBio Builds Beta Version of Microfluidics-Based Sequencing System


By Monica Heger

GnuBio said this week that it has begun building the beta version of its microfluidics-based sequencing system and is transitioning into the commercial phase of its business.

Sepehr Kiani, executive vice president of product development, said in a statement that the company routinely gets "600-base reads at 95 percent read yield" with a per-base accuracy "greater than 99.7 percent," and that it can sequence through homopolymers and simple repeat reads of nine bases.

GnuBio CEO John Boyce told In Sequence that the company is still aiming to launch the system commercially in the second quarter of 2012, and that, as previously stated, it would have 1,000-base-pair reads at launch (IS 10/4/2011).

The company, with outside collaborators, has already demonstrated reads of up to 800 base pairs and expects by the end of next week to obtain consistent 800-base-pair reads with at least 3,000-fold coverage, he added.

As previously stated, the company's technology uses fluorescently labeled hexamer oligonucleotides to read bases. GnuBio has designed a library that includes all possible base combinations as well as a collection of longer probes to capture homopolymer stretches and repeats.

At launch, its library will contain 5,000 probes, but Boyce added that the company will be able to scale up, and has already created 11,000 probes.

The system will have a list price of $50,000. Turnaround time for a targeted sequencing run will be two hours, which includes integrated sample prep and informatics.

GnuBio is using Intel processors for the system's embedded computational hardware for analysis, which is all done within the system. The company signed a licensing agreement with Intel that permits it to co-brand its system with the chip giant's name, Boyce said.

Because of its low cost, fast turnaround, and limited hands-on time, GnuBio is targeting the clinical market for the system. Boyce said that the company recently signed a nonbinding agreement with a multibillion-dollar diagnostic company to develop products in the pathogen identification and quantification market.

"Sequencing will play more and more of a role" in pathogen identification, Boyce said, largely because most of the current products for pathogen identification cannot identify novel pathogens, only known ones.

The company already has a couple of early-access customers, including the City of Hope Hospital and the Montreal Heart Institute, and has begun targeted amplicon sequencing pilot projects with those customers, including a project with City of Hope to sequence two exons encompassing 477 base pairs on the TP53 tumor suppressor gene.

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