With $10 million in new investments and a $4.5 million grant from National Human Genome Research Institute, a Cambridge DNA sequencing company is preparing to launch its version of a desktop DNA sequencer next year.
“To carry out the process (of DNA sequencing), you need a team that understands how to do microbiology, informatics, and all these complex processes, but clinics don’t have these teams,” said GnuBIO co-founder, President and CEO John Boyce. “We thought about, how do we make this streamlined so that almost anyone can do it? We’ve created basically the K-Cup coffee of DNA sequencing.”
GnuBIO will use the Series B, which it raised from a group of unnamed private investors, to hire additional staff in anticipation of a 2013 market launch. Boyce said details about a launch date will be released later.
Built on emulsion-based microfluidic technology developed in the lab of Harvard University physics professor David Weitz, GnuBIO’s machine combines all of the steps needed for DNA sequencing into one system, including target selection and enrichment, DNA amplification, and DNA sequencing and analysis.
The user loads genomic DNA onto a cartridge, puts it into the machine and presses a button to start the process. Three and a half hours later, results are delivered, Boyce said. (The results would still need to be interpreted, which Boyce said the company will leave to the companies focused specifically on doing just that.)
As genome sequencing continues to get cheaper, faster and easier, the $3 billion market for these types of machines continues to grow. Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN), the dominant player in the DNA sequencing market, and Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) already have desktop DNA sequencers already on the market.
With a price tag of $50,000 up-front – “far less” than anything that’s on the market now, according to Boyce – GnuBIO says its system could be used by research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, molecular diagnostic developers and hospitals.
GnuBIO was founded in 2009 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
[Photo from Flickr user andylepp]