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Sequencing Startup IBS Raises Private Cash

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Intelligent Bio-Systems, a privately held developer of massively parallel sequencing systems, has closed a round of financing led by Norwich Ventures of Waltham, Mass.

The amount of the funding is not being disclosed by the firm at this time.

IBS, which also is based in Waltham, is the exclusive licensee of certain DNA sequencing patents held by Columbia University. The underlying technology, which uses a four-color reversible terminator sequencing-by-synthesis chemistry, was developed in the lab of Jingyue Ju, a co-founder of IBS, at Columbia.

A 2006 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described the method developed by Ju and colleagues for sequencing DNA on a solid surface using rationally designed nucleotides that have two modifications: a cleavable fluorescent label attached to a certain position of the base, and a cleavable blocking group at the 3' end.

IBS is developing its platform with the goal of sequencing millions of DNA samples in parallel on a single chip. The firm was one of the recipients of the National Human Genome Research Institute's "$100,000 Genome" grants in October 2006, under which it received $425,000 to develop its sequencing system.

IBS CEO Steven Gordon said in a statement today that the funding would support further development of the firm's prototype sequencer and enable it to deliver working instruments to early-access collaborators during the coming year. "Our customers are extremely excited about our new technology as it is affordable for smaller labs and will be the fastest and most cost-effective method for sequencing DNA on the market," he said.

Gordon had told GenomeWeb Daily News in late 2006 that the firm had hoped to place its systems with early access customers in 2007. The firm has kept a relatively low profile since then.

But a couple of months ago, Gordon told GWDN sister publication In Sequence that IBS plans to start testing a commercial prototype “at one or two large laboratories” in the first quarter of 2009. He said that the current prototype produces sequence data “at similar read lengths and quality levels as some of the other commercial systems.”

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