Complete Genomics launches to become world's first large-scale human genome sequencing company

Mountain View 06 October 2008Complete Genomics Inc., a third-generation human genome sequencing company, has formally launched as the world's first provider of large-scale human genome sequencing services. The company, which was established in March 2006, has been operating in "stealth mode" from a 32.000 square-foot facility near San Francisco. For the past two and a half years, Complete Genomics has been reinventing the process of DNA sequencing based on pioneering technology invented by its founders and refined by a team of 100 employees with expertise in DNA engineering, molecular biology, instrumentation, semiconductors and high-performance computing. The convergence of these fields in Silicon Valley has allowed Complete Genomics to sequence its first complete human genome, providing proof-of-concept for its disruptive new technology and demonstrating the high accuracy and low cost of its approach.

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Complete Genomics is building the world's largest commercial human genome sequencing centre. It will offer high-quality, high-throughput, affordable, complete human genome sequencing services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as other medical researchers that were previously priced out of the market. By offering a sequencing service instead of following the traditional instrument sales model, Complete Genomics is relieving its customers of operational, computational and capital purchase burdens, allowing them to focus their resources on scientific discovery.

"We will be the first company to sequence complete human genomes for less than $1000 in material costs", stated Dr. Clifford Reid, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Complete Genomics. "This breakthrough materials cost, combined with our low per-genome instrument, labour and overhead costs, will allow us to offer complete human genomes for just $5000 in quarter 2 of 2009."

"This $5000 price point, combined with the scale of our sequencing centre, will dramatically increase the availability and affordability of human genome sequencing. For the first time, our customers can conduct systematic studies of the genetic basis of disease and drug response. Our sequencing services will be one of the core enablers of the impending revolution in personalized medicine", Dr. Reid added.

"Many chronic and life-threatening human diseases have a genetic basis, and Complete Genomics' sequencing service will allow medical researchers to study disease pathways comprehensively and cost-effectively in a large number of individuals. The ability to compare a significant number of genomes of people with a disease against those without the disease is central to enabling drug discovery and the development of new diagnostics", added Dr. George M. Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, director of the Center for Computational Genetics and member of Complete Genomics' Scientific Advisory Board.

This announcement marks the first step in Complete Genomics' dramatic growth strategy. After the company launches its third-generation human DNA sequencing service in quarter 2 of 2009, it plans to sequence 1000 genomes in the same year. The company will then sequence 20.000 genomes in 2010.

This is proving to be a popular proposition: 10 percent of Complete Genomics' sequencing capacity is already allocated to the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology, with whom it announced its first partnership today.

Also in conjunction with partners, Complete Genomics intends to open additional genome sequencing centres across the United States and abroad. Over the next five years, the company projects that 10 such centres will be able to sequence 1 million complete human genomes.

"One million genomes represent 1000 people each in 1000 disease studies", Dr. Reid stated. "Our customers will conduct these studies to reveal the genetic basis of all major human diseases including cancer, psychiatric and neurological diseases, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, auto-immune diseases, and many other poorly understood multi-factorial diseases."

A key component of Complete Genomics' sequencing centre is its data centre, purpose-built to manage and analyse the staggering amount of genetic data that will be generated by sequencing thousands of human genomes. Because the data generated by a single human genome would fill 1000 laptop computers, each with 100 GB of disk storage, data management for Complete Genomics' genome centre will be a massive undertaking. The company plans to have 10.000 processors with five petabytes - 5 million gigabytes - of disk storage in 2009 and will further increase its capacity to 60.000 processors with 30 petabytes of disk storage in 2010.

Complete Genomics expects to sequence 200 genomes per day by the end of 2010, making it the world's highest-throughput human genome sequencing centre. To put this in context, fewer than 20 complete human genomes have been sequenced in the world to date.

Complete Genomics also is developing sophisticated analysis tools that will help its customers interpret their data. Such tools will allow them to browse data, assemble genomes, annotate and compare genomes, and run association studies.

"Complete Genomics is a game-changing company with incredible growth potential. Not only has it developed a sequencing technology that will enable it to sell complete human genomes for $5000, it has also built a scalable services model to accommodate pent-up industry and research demand. And this is just the beginning. Complete Genomics' technology costs will decrease further as the volume of genomes it sequences goes up, providing a durable competitive advantage", stated Dr. Alex Barkas, managing director of Prospect Venture Partners as well as an investor in Complete Genomics and board member. "Complete Genomics has the potential to revolutionize the way its customers learn the genetic basis of health and disease, and apply that to the future of medicine. We are about to see a very positive, disruptive technology come to market."

Founded in 2006, Complete Genomics is a Californian company that has developed a novel approach to sequencing human DNA. Complete Genomics plans to combine its proprietary third-generation DNA sequencing technology and its high-performance computing capabilities to create a human genome sequencing service that will deliver low-cost, high-quality data on an unprecedented scale. The company is currently building the world's largest human genome sequencing centre. This development will allow pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers, for the first time, to conduct large-scale human genome studies that will help identify the genetic underpinnings of complex diseases and drug responses.


Leslie Versweyveld

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