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Champions 2.0


March 12, 2007

Christopher McLeod454 Life Sciences
Christopher McLeod
President & CEO

How has your company adapted and responded to the changing economic climate in the past five years when so many others companies did not?

The economic climate has squeezed life science research budgets. 454 Life Sciences has responded by continuing to drive down the cost of sequencing with the recent launch of our second generation sequencing system: the Genome Sequencer FLX, or GS GLX.

What is your vision for the future of the life sciences market over the next several years?

454 Sequencing can open new research opportunities via its low cost, high-throughput, and superior sensitivity. The ability to sequence entire exons in a single read is unique to 454 Sequencing, as compared to other emerging or commercially available, next generation sequencing technologies.  Ultimately, we hope our system will enable personalized medicine, such as identifying the early stages of drug resistance and facilitating a change in treatment that is tailored to a patient’s unique genetic response.

By enabling a method of sequencing that is more comprehensive and less expensive than conventional sequencing methods, 454 Sequencing has numerous applications, including medical research, paleogenomics (the study of ancient DNA, such as Neandertal) and metagenomics (the survey of organisms in an environmental sample). 

What products and services does your company provide and what special capabilities do they offer the life sciences market?

The GS FLX system builds upon our commitment to innovation in high-throughput sequencing by providing longer read lengths and enhanced throughput. Researchers have maximum flexibility in both the number and type of application they can address including EST sequencing, identification of small RNAs and transcription factor binding sites, whole genome sequencing, and metagenomics.

The improved price performance and higher data quality from enhanced read lengths and improved accuracy enable the GS FLX to economically address a broad range of sequencing applications. 

Partnerships are an effective way to track life science advances and ensure that your company delivers timely products and services. Which life sciences companies or organizations have you partnered with or invested in and why?

We entered a strategic partnership with Roche Diagnostics for the global distribution of 454 Sequencing products in May 2005.  This partnership leverages Roche’s global sales, marketing and supply strengths to expand the reach of our products in researcher centers worldwide.  Roche is also supporting our continued development of 454 Sequencing with milestone payments and research funding.

We are also proud of our collaboration with the Max Planck Institute to sequence the Neandertal genome, as it promises to yield more insight into human biology than the sequencing of any individual human. This ambitious project is further validation of 454 Sequencing™ technology and demonstrates that we can sequence any genome, even one from highly degraded samples.

What are your most exciting products and initiatives in development, and how will they improve life science research?

We are excited about the recent launch of our GS FLX system.  Feedback from early adopter sites has been very positive due to longer read lengths, increased throughput per run and very high single read accuracy. The GS FLX offers high throughput sequencing with single read accuracy equivalent to traditional Sanger sequencing, and we believe the GS FLX will provide maximum flexibility for customers’ sequencing needs throughout the life science fields. 

The enhanced read length and accuracy supports an even broader range of applications, which yield deep biological content. The Genome Sequencer 20 systems that are already in use around the world can be easily upgraded on-site to the GS FLX.

Where do you see your company in five years?

It is wonderful to be on the road toward the goal of sequencing the $10,000 human genome.  We expect to have made significant progress toward that goal, and we look forward to researchers continuing to use 454 Sequencing to make discoveries along the way that will answer complex life science questions.

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