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Source BioScience Says Overnight Service Drove 60 Percent Growth in DNA Sequencing Business

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Source BioScience's DNA sequencing services business has grown by 60 percent year over year, driven by its overnight services, the UK-based company reported this week in its half-year 2012 earnings report.

Additionally, since the end of the period ending June 30, 2012, the company has launched sequencing services on the Illumina MiSeq platform and weekend sequencing services. The firm already offers sequencing on the Illumina HiSeq as well as Sanger sequencing services.

Source BioScience, a genomic services company and reference lab with facilities in London, Cambridge, and Oxford, trades on the London Stock Exchange. The company's LifeSciences group launched its overnight sequencing service last June. Intended for researchers in the London, Cambridge, and Midlands regions of the UK, the offering delivers up to 1,400 nucleotides by 9 am the following day.

"We have seen another period of strategic progress, double digit revenue growth and significantly enhanced profitability compared with the first half of last year," said Source BioScience chairman Laurie Turnbull in a statement. "This progress has been underpinned by significant headway in LifeSciences' Overnight Service for DNA sequencing" as well as a cervical cancer screening business available through the company's Healthcare group.

The company's total revenue for the six months increased 11 percent to £8.4 million ($13.2 million), from £7.6 million ($12 million) in the first half of 2011.

Revenue for the LifeSciences business, which includes its sequencing services, remained the same from the year-ago period at £4 million ($6.3 million), but operating profit for the group increased to £500,000 ($800,000) from £300,000 ($470,000) as a result of operational improvements made during 2011.

The overnight service, in particular, "has helped us significantly increase our market share to become the only company offering a UK-based sequencing service and take a leading position as a commercial provider of DNA sequencing in Europe," the company said in a statement.

The company noted, however, that in the first quarter of 2012 it "experienced some issues with our high throughput next generation sequencing platforms," causing down time and approximately 30 percent loss of production capacity. These "technical issues" have now been solved, the company said.

In July, Source BioScience launched its Weekend Service for sequencing and began offering services on the MiSeq.

The MiSeq will enable access to new markets and customers and will also provide opportunities for the company's Healthcare division, "applying next-generation sequencing to molecular diagnostics, a key component of the business," the firm said.

As part of moving next-gen sequencing into its Healthcare business, Source BioScience has partnered with the Barts Cancer Institute and Agilent Technologies to improve approaches to cancer diagnostics and personalized treatment for patients. The MiSeq will be an "important component in delivering this opportunity," the company said.

Source BioScience anticipates that by the end of the year, it will be the largest outsourced provider of sequencing in the UK, a market it estimates to be about £10 million ($15.8 million) per year.

The company also disclosed some board changes that were made during the first half of the year. Non-executive director Robin Slinger, who has been a board member since 2004, has stepped down, and Robert Bakewell has been appointed in his place. Bakewell joined Source Bioscience in 2005 and has served as finance director in a non-board capacity since 2011.

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