Next Generation Sequencing Technology May Hold Promise of the $1,000 Genome
FOSTER CITY, Calif. & HOUSTON–Applied Biosystems Group (NYSE:ABI), an Applera Corporation business, and VisiGen Biotechnologies, Inc., announced today that Applied Biosystems has signed a definitive agreement to make an equity investment in privately held VisiGen, a next-generation sequencing technology company, and to enter into a scientific collaboration agreement with VisiGen concurrent with the closing of the investment. The investment and the collaboration are subject to closing conditions specified in the investment agreement, including VisiGen’s receipt of an additional investment from SeqWright, Inc., an existing VisiGen shareholder, and other conditions that are customary for a transaction of this type. The companies expect that Applied Biosystems’ investment will be made and the collaboration commenced by calendar year end. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
In August 2005, VisiGen was awarded a “$1,000 Genome” grant from The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance the development of innovative sequencing technologies intended to reduce the cost of DNA sequencing and expand the use of genomics in biomedical research and health care. The ability to sequence an individual genome cost-effectively could enable health care professionals to tailor diagnosis, treatment, and prevention to each person’s unique genetic profile.
DNA sequencing based on capillary electrophoresis revolutionized the world of biological science and led to the sequencing of the human genome and other important model organisms. The success of these genome projects has only whetted the appetite of the scientific community, thus creating demand for cheaper, faster, and more sensitive sequencing technologies.
“Applied Biosystems continues to extensively evaluate potential next generation sequencing technologies. We believe that the quality of VisiGen’s science and the progress towards the development of single-molecule sequencing technology is quite impressive,” said Catherine M. Burzik, President, Applied Biosystems. “We are committed to maintaining our leadership position in DNA sequencing. Applied Biosystems plans to complement its internal investments in new and existing sequencing technologies with promising next generation approaches, such as VisiGen’s.”
“VisiGen’s approach of monitoring massively parallel arrays of single molecules may enable much larger scale sequencing projects in the areas of cancer and other diseases. In the long run, it could also make sequencing-based targeted medicine a reality,” said Susan H. Hardin, Ph.D., President and CEO of VisiGen. “Applied Biosystems’ expertise in DNA sequencing makes it an ideal partner for us as we work towards commercialization, and this investment will accelerate the development of our sequencing technology.”
VisiGen’s technological approach to DNA sequencing is based on the ability to analyze a single molecule of DNA in real-time, which has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of sequencing while simultaneously significantly improving throughput over existing commercially available technologies. This solution could provide a quantum leap in scope and scale of research aimed at uncovering the genetic basis of common diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
About Applera Corporation and Applied Biosystems
Applera Corporation consists of two operating groups. The Applied Biosystems Group serves the life science industry and research community by developing and marketing instrument-based systems, consumables, software, and services. Customers use these tools to analyze nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), small molecules, and proteins to make scientific discoveries and develop new pharmaceuticals. Applied Biosystems’ products also serve the needs of some markets outside of life science research, which we refer to as “applied markets,” such as the fields of: human identity testing (forensic and paternity testing); biosecurity, which refers to products needed in response to the threat of biological terrorism and other malicious, accidental, and natural biological dangers; and quality and safety testing, for example in food and the environment. Applied Biosystems is headquartered in Foster City, CA, and reported sales of nearly $1.8 billion during fiscal 2005. The Celera Genomics Group (NYSE:CRA) is engaged principally in the discovery and development of targeted therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Celera Genomics is leveraging its proteomic, bioinformatic, and genomic capabilities to identify and validate drug targets, and to discover and develop small molecule therapeutics. It is also seeking to advance therapeutic antibody and selected small molecule drug programs in collaboration with global technology and market leaders. Celera Diagnostics, a 50/50 joint venture between Applied Biosystems and Celera Genomics, is focused on discovery, development, and commercialization of diagnostic products. Information about Applera Corporation, including reports and other information filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is available at http://www.applera.com, or by telephoning 800.762.6923. Information about Applied Biosystems is available at http://www.appliedbiosystems.com/.
About VisiGen Biotechnologies, Inc.
VisiGen, a privately-held company based in Houston, TX, is developing a radically new method of sequencing DNA that is projected to completely sequence a human genome in a day for the long-coveted target mark of $1000. Its technology is distinguished from other next generation sequencing technologies in that it exploits the natural process of DNA replication in a way that enhances accuracy without drastically impacting efficiency. VisiGen’s approach involves engineering both polymerase and nucleotide triphosphates to act together as direct molecular sensors of DNA base identity in real-time. The massively parallel nature of this technology enables sequence acquisition at rates approaching 1 million bases per second per machine. Information about VisiGen Biotechnologies, Inc., is available at http://www.visigenbio.com.
Applied Biosystems Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking. These may be identified by the use of forward-looking words or phrases such as “should” among others. These forward-looking statements are based on Applera Corporation’s current expectations. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a “safe harbor” for such forward-looking statements. In order to comply with the terms of the safe harbor, Applera Corporation notes that a variety of factors could cause actual results and experience to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. These factors include but are not limited to (1) rapidly changing technology and dependence on the development and customer acceptance of new products; (2) sales dependent on customers’ capital spending policies and government-sponsored research; (3) Applied Biosystems’ dependence on the operation of computer hardware, software, and Internet applications and related technology; (4) unproven use of genomics information to develop or commercialize products; and (5) other factors that might be described from time to time in Applera Corporation’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All information in this press release is as of the date of the release, and Applera does not undertake any duty to update this information, including any forward-looking statements, unless required by law.
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(C)Copyright 2005. Applera Corporation. All rights reserved. Applied Biosystems and Celera are registered trademarks and Applera and Celera Genomics are trademarks of Applera Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or certain other countries. VisiGen is a registered trademark of VisiGen Biotechnologies, Inc.
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