Pyrosequencing technology for applied genomics successfully distributed in European, U.S., and Asian-Pacific markets

Uppsala 09 August 2001Pyrosequencing AB, a developer, manufacturer, and marketer of DNA sequencing systems for applied genetic analysis, sold its high-throughput PTP system to the United Kingdom based genomics firm Oxagen Limited. The sale comes just months after Oxagen purchased Pyrosequencing's moderate-throughput PSQ 96 System and represents an increased investment in Pyrosequencing technology. A second order came from Stanford Genome Technology Center in the United States, already a user of the PSQ 96 System as well. The Genome Technology Center has made a further commitment to the robust technology by scaling up its genotyping capacity through the Preferred Technology Programme (PTP).

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PTP offers a fully automated high-throughput process that incorporates robotics for sample preparation. Introduced to the market in February 2001, the system utilises 384-well microplates and is capable of scoring up to 100.000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) per day. For the analysis of SNPs, the PSQ 96 System with SNP Software and Reagent Kits is used by customers such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Karolinska Institute, and DuPont Agriculture. The company's Sequence Analysis Software and Reagent Kits together with the PSQ 96 System are applied for the identification of gene-specific DNA sequences for applications such as bacterial and viral typing where speed and ease of use are essential.

Oxagen, that aims to identify new therapeutics and diagnostics using large-scale family studies to understand the association of genetic variations, will use PTP to study the genetics of complex diseases. "Our recent experience with the PSQ 96 has proved to us that the Pyrosequencing technology is cost-effective, easy to use, and reliable", stated Dr. Trevor Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer of Oxagen. "PTP should enable us to scale-up our SNP genotyping capacity based on a proven technology and to reach results at greater speed and lower cost without loss of quality."

Oxagen has rapidly established itself as a player in the study of the complex disease genetics, conducting programmes in cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disease, and metabolic and endocrine disorders, including osteoporosis. Oxagen capitalises on insights from genetics, believing that this approach is the most effective way to provide fundamental knowledge about the molecular mechanisms of disease. In addition to furthering the discovery of disease-related genes, the company's database of clinical cases and controls and its increasing collection of validated candidate genes offers a valuable resource to other life sciences companies that wish to understand the impact of genetic variation on the discovery, development, and marketing of therapeutics throughout the product cycle.

Oxagen has formed collaborations with more than 30 leading clinical research groups in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and worldwide. Oxagen is running gene discovery programmes in the areas of cardiovascular disease in partnership with AstraZeneca; asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis; and osteoporosis, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and auto-immune thyroid disease. The company has established extensive databases of phenotype and genotype records in these diseases which, combined with the growing list of candidate genes and proprietary intellectual property arising from the analysis of the samples, offer numerous partnering opportunities for companies seeking novel target discovery programmes and pharmacogenomic validation.

In turn, the Stanford Genome Technology Center, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) genome centres funded since 1993 by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), was established to increase the throughput and decrease the cost of DNA sequencing and genomic analyses, and to participate in the international effort to complete the sequence of a model eukaryote, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast genome is relatively simple but shares many genes in common with the human genome, thus making it a good system for deciphering the function of genes which might have a similar role in humans.

"We have come to rely on the accuracy and high level of genetic information that Pyrosequencing's DNA sequencing-by-synthesis technology delivers", stated Dr. Ronald W. Davis, Director of the Center and Professor of Biochemistry at Stanford. "We are always seeking new methods to advance our research by accelerating the time it takes to genotype samples. More importantly, we know it is essential that we have the most comprehensive sequence information available and confidence in our analyses. We selected PTP because we know the technology works and it meets these requirements."

"We are pleased with the market's adoption of PTP since its introduction earlier this year and are particularly delighted to expand our relationship with Oxagen and the Stanford Genome Technology Centre, two satisfied PSQ 96 System customers", stated Erik Wallden, President and CEO of Pyrosequencing AB. "Repeat orders are a strong validation of our business and a testament to the performance and relevance of Pyrosequencing technology in today's applied genomics market. These sales are the second and third PTP orders in four months and are evidence of our ability to deliver a reliable, easily scalable, and fully automated solution to the applied genomics market", Mr. Wallden added.

Pyrosequencing introduced the PSQ 96 System, its first DNA sequencing product, just fourteen months ago and is already leading the market in both the number of systems sold and the diversity of its customer base. The company has currently sold more than 100 systems worldwide, across all major market segments including pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as academic research institutions. In this regard, Pyrosequencing completed its worldwide distribution network for its DNA sequencing and analysis systems to include the major markets in Asia Pacific.

In addition to six well-established distributorships, Pyrosequencing recently signed four new agreements with leading distributors of life science research products including Millennium Science Pty. Ltd. for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia; Bio-Medical Science Company, Ltd. for Korea; Biowell Technology Inc. for Taiwan; and Gene Company Ltd., in China and Hong Kong. These agreements will complement the company's existing distribution arrangement in Japan with Sumitomo. "The Asia-Pacific market represents a second wave of growth for DNA sequencing and genetic analysis products and these new agreements cover 80 percent of that market", stated Marten Winge, Vice President, World Wide Marketing, Sales and Support for Pyrosequencing AB.

"We expect that our distributors outside the United States, Europe, and Japan will, over time, represent a substantial portion of our revenue. To facilitate this growth, we sought agreements with clear market leaders in these countries to take an immediate and assertive position in these regions", added Mr. Winge. "Pyrosequencing continues to build a strong and dedicated customer base and is playing a major role in shaping the market for applied genomics", concluded Mr. Wallden. "This comprehensive distribution network, together with the success of our own sales force in the United States and Europe, will enable Pyrosequencing to maintain its leadership in providing solutions for applied genetic analysis."


Leslie Versweyveld

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