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GnuBio to Ship Early Version of Sequencer to Montreal Heart Institute


By Julia Karow

Harvard startup GnuBio plans to install an early version of its sequencing system at the Montreal Heart Institute within a month and has used its microfluidics platform to sequence several PCR amplicons.

Earlier this year, GnuBio said it sequenced a 126-base amplicon and disclosed that it raised $8 million from private investors last year (IS 4/12/2011).

At the Consumer Genetics conference in Boston last week, Tal Raz, GnuBio's vice president of molecular biology, said that the company has generated about 50 megabases of sequence data in total so far. It has sequenced amplicons from plasmids as well as from clinical targets, including a 477-base amplicon from the p53 gene.

GnuBio is not yet sequencing entire genomes because it does not yet have a full library of more than 4,000 labeled hexamer probes that is required to do so.

Raz said the average per-base error rate for the system is currently 0.03 percent, ranging from 0.003 percent to 0.5 percent.

The company plans to install an early version of its instrument at the Montreal Heart Institute "within a month," Raz said, followed by a beta-system program later this year. Michael Phillips, director of the Montreal Heart Institute Pharmacogenomics Centre, is a member of the company's scientific advisory board.

The firm, which is currently talking to potential commercial partners and scientific collaborators, targets a commercial release of its instrument for the first half of 2012.

The instrument will be a desktop platform with integrated target capture, target amplification, and DNA sequencing and will allow users to sequence a large number of PCR amplicons. Users will be able to analyze, for example, 50 genes at 40-fold coverage in about three hours, Raz said, with amplicons up to about 1,000 base pairs long.

The cost will be measured per sample rather than per run since the platform sequences samples in series and not in parallel.

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

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