2 min readHelicos BioSciences Receives Technology Innovation Award

Palo Alto, CA – Frost & Sullivan, based on its recent analysis of the genome/transcriptome sequencing market, has presented Helicos BioSciences with the 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation of the Year.

According to the announcement from Frost & Sullivan, this Award is in recognition of Helicos’ introduction of an advanced single-molecule sequencing platform that allows an entire genome to be cost-effectively sequenced in a very short amount of time.

Standard methods for sequencing genes require that the DNA be amplified many times – a time-consuming and expensive process. The first human genome was completed in 2003 after 3 years and a cost of 2.5 Billion Dollars. Last year, the first individual human genome was sequenced just a year ago for a cost of about $1 million.

Further to the announcement, the Helicos Genetic Analysis System enables extremely high-throughput genetic analysis by directly sequencing individual molecules of DNA. This allows an entire genome to be sequenced in about two weeks, for a cost of about $36,000.

“Single-molecule DNA sequencing has been a goal of the scientific community for over 40 years,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Dr. Kathryn Austin. “Helicos’ proprietary True Single Molecule Sequencing (tSMS) technology, enables the simultaneous sequencing of large numbers of strands of single DNA or RNA molecules.”

The tSMS technology – developed from the work of Dr. Stephen Quake at Stanford University – uses a proprietary form of “sequencing-by-synthesis”, in which labelled DNA bases are sequentially added to the nucleic acid templates captured on a “flow cell”. Each base addition is detected by the HeliScope Single Molecule Sequencer, which is at the heart of the system. This way the entire sequence of bound strands can be elucidated.

The tSMS technology enables the direct analysis of individual DNA molecules, without requiring a large number of copies of those molecules. The system does not require elaborate sample processing or amplification techniques, dramatically lowering the cost of individual genomic and genetic analyses. The simple sample preparation process can easily be scaled and replicated to meet the requirements of large, complex experiments, overcoming the workflow bottlenecks encountered by methods such as PCR or cloning.

“As an enabling technology for genomics research, Helicos’ technology platform will allow researchers to accelerate their understanding of important but extremely complex diseases such as cancer and heart disease,” notes Austin. “The Helicos Genetic Analysis System will have extensive applications in basic and pharmaceutical R&D, from diagnostics to prognostic indicators to more effective therapies, increasing the potential for personalized medicine and more accurate molecular diagnostics. One especially promising capability is rapid sequencing of the “transcriptome”, allowing quantitative analysis of gene expression through mRNA levels.”

The company is planning future generations of chemistry that will ultimately allow customers to access the full power of the HeliScope Sequencer and enable human genome analysis at or below $1,000.

For these achievements, Frost & Sullivan has  present Helicos BioSciences with the 2008 Award for Technology Innovation of the Year.

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this Award to the company that has carried out new research, which has resulted in innovation(s) that have or are expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. The Award recognizes the quality and depth of a company’s research and development program as well as the vision and risk-taking that enabled it to undertake such an endeavour.

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