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Helicos BioSciences Sells Sequencer to Dutch Medical Center

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By Julia Karow

Helicos BioSciences said this week that it has sold a Helicos Genetic Analysis system to a group of Dutch medical centers, led by the Leiden University Medical Center.

The instrument, funded by a grant from the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research, will be installed at LUMC's Leiden Genome Technology Center.

The center, headed by Johan den Dunnen, already has experience with next-generation sequencing: As of last year, it had two Illumina Genome Analyzers installed and had sequenced a human genome (see In Sequence 6/3/2008).

The sale follows a collaboration between Helicos and LUMC's forensic laboratory, which provided the company with DNA from human remains for analysis, a project the partners plan to publish. At a conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this fall, Helicos Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer Patrice Milos said that the DNA, extracted from teeth from an excavation at a church cemetery, dated back to the Middle Ages.

"Based on our initial results with another technology, we were not expecting to get much information from these highly degraded samples," said den Dunnen in a statement from the company. "Helicos was able to provide us with a surprisingly high proportion of human sequence information from these historical human remains, allowing us to determine their ancestry and relatedness for the first time."

Last week, Helicos said it has received sales orders for seven systems so far and has recognized revenue for two of these. In addition, it has three systems installed at academic institutions for scientific and commercial evaluation (see In Sequence 11/10/2009).

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