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Helicos Lays off 14 Staffers; Scales Back Reagent Supplies, Service for Existing Customers

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This story was originally published Sept. 22

Helicos BioSciences is laying off another 14 staff members during the current quarter in a further effort to reduce its operating costs, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

The latest round of layoffs, following a staff cut this spring that left 40 employees (IS 5/18/2010), brings the company's headcount to at most 25. The company expects to incur about $175,000 in severance payments.

As of Sept. 20, Helicos had $2.3 million in cash and cash equivalents. It is trying to preserve its cash so it has more time to secure new funding or partnerships for its new diagnostic strategy, first revealed this spring.

However, the latest cost-cutting measures will impact the firm's ability to implement that strategy, "including delaying the validation and introduction of molecular diagnostic tests and development of its own CLIA-certified genetic testing laboratory," according to the filing.

In addition, Helicos said it is "significantly scaling back service support and reagent supply to its current installed base and is significantly curtailing collaborative activities with other parties." It has fewer than 15 sequencers installed outside its premises.

The company said it will require additional capital before the end of the year to continue its operations. It is pursuing "various financing alternatives," including public or private sales of equity, borrowings or bridge financings, and strategic partnerships.

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