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Pacific Biosciences Provides Updates on Platforms, Contracts at JP Morgan Conference

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Biosciences CEO Christian Henry revealed more details about the firm's new sequencer launches as well as other activities in a Wednesday afternoon presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

In addition to providing specifics about the firm's 76 orders for the new Revio long-read sequencer and forthcoming financial results, he spoke about the Onso short-read platform, an exclusive contract in the Middle East, a bioinformatics collaboration with the University of Tokyo, and the creation of a trusted vendor network for the firm's sequencing platforms.

The news follows a torrent of information from the Menlo Park, California-based instrument maker last year. PacBio announced Revio in October at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting and more information about it at an investor day in New York in November.

Orders for Revio so far have come from 43 unique customers in 13 countries, Henry said. Most are existing PacBio customers, but 30 percent of orders currently in the sales funnel are from customers who will be new to PacBio.

Some of those orders came as part of an exclusive contract PacBio won to provide sequencing technology for a population genomics project at Mohammed Bin Rashid University in the United Arab Emirates. Researchers there have ordered multiple Revios, as well as some Sequel IIe instruments for the time being. "We won this against all other sequencing technologies," Henry said. "We wouldn't have been able to do that without Revio."

PacBio is also officially accepting orders for its new short-read platform coming out this year, the sequencing-by-binding-based Onso, which will carry a list price of $259,000. Reagents will be priced to deliver data at around $15 per gigabase. Henry noted that the platform's higher per-base accuracy — with 90 percent of bases above Q40, or 99.99 percent accuracy — should mean that less sequencing is required to get the same result. In an interview in advance of the session, Henry told GenomeWeb that at least one beta customer is seeing a significant number of bases above Q50.

"We can see thing other technologies can't, or we can see them with less sequencing coverage, which means lower cost," Henry said. He claimed that even when using Illumina sequencing with unique molecular identifiers to help rare variant detection, Onso can detect them with "fourfold less coverage."

The firm is also launching "PacBio Compatible," a portfolio of sample prep and bioinformatics technologies that have been validated to work with its long-read, and eventually short-read, platforms. Companies that are part of the network include Agilent Technologies, 10x Genomics, Qiagen, Google Health, Hamilton, Tecan, Twist Bioscience, Jumpcode Genomics, Nvidia, Diagenode, DNAnexus, Sentieon, Miroculus, and Bugseq.

Henry called the network "an important step in our evolution."

He also mentioned a collaboration with researchers at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine to study the use of long-read sequencing and novel bioinformatic methods in rare disease. "We need better and more tools in second and tertiary analysis," Henry said, adding that the firm will focus more on informatics in 2023 "to get the most value out of sequence data as possible."

As reported earlier this week, for the fourth quarter, PacBio expects revenue of approximately $27.3 million, down 24 percent from $36.0 million a year ago. For full-year 2022, the firm expects revenue of approximately $128.2 million, a 2 percent dip from $130.5 million in 2021.

"Fourth quarter revenues were lower than we expected, partially because Revio subsumed much of demand for the Sequel IIe," Henry said. But $60 million in consumables revenue in 2022 was a record, he said. "This was a really important metric. Demand for HiFi sequencing is growing at a really nice pace."

PacBio grew its Sequel II and IIe installed base to 512 at the end of the year and its headcount to 770 employees, with 230 in its commercial organization and 415 in research and operations, he noted.