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Life Tech to Launch Single-Molecule Sequencer in 2011

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Life Technologies plans to commercialize a single-molecule sequencer in 2011, following an early-access program in late 2010, In Sequence has learned.

Life Tech President and COO Mark Stevenson told In Sequence during the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in Marco Island, Fla., last week that the technology will complement the firm's Applied Biosystems SOLiD platform by providing long sequence reads.

The company has earmarked one-third of its $300 million 2009 R&D budget to develop the technology as well as to improve the SOLiD platform, he said.

The platform will combine technology from VisiGen Biotechnologies, a company that Life Tech division Invitrogen acquired last year, and surface technology from an internal development program. It will also use quantum dot labeling, a technology that Invitrogen acquired in 2005. The sample prep for the instrument will be simple, according to Stevenson.

Like Pacific Biosciences, VisiGen had been working on a single-molecule real-time sequencing technology that uses gamma-labeled nucleoside triphosphates (see In Sequence 10/28/2008). However, while PacBio uses zero-mode waveguides to decrease the observation volume, VisiGen had been focused on fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based detection.

Also like PacBio, Life Tech promises single-molecule reads thousands of bases in length that it believes will be useful for building genomes and analyzing structural variants.

Stevenson said that Life Tech plans to start an early-access program for the technology in late 2010, and to launch the platform in 2011.

He added that with regard to single-molecule sequencing in particular, the company “continues to look at the IP landscape” and will “challenge” others who it believes are not respecting its intellectual property.

Life Tech has recently started to describe the technology to potential customers, and has shared early data with them. Later this year, it plans to publicly reveal proof-of-concept data, according to Stevenson.

The platform aims to provide single-molecule reads of at least 5,000 bases that will allow customers to study structural variations and will help them assemble large genomes, like the human genome, de novo, he said.

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