Firms claim PacBio RS sequencing platform can achieve read lengths of up to 10,000 bp.

Sequencing services provider GATC Biotech has purchased a Pacific Biosciences PacBio RS sequencing platform and has been selected by the latter as its first European service provider. GATC says it aims to use the PacBio RS system for resolving structural variations in fields such as human cancer genomics, and for detecting rare SNPs. Potential future applications with the PacBio RS system could include the direct sequencing of methylated bases for regulatory studies within the pharma or diagnostics industries, GATC suggests. Installation of the PacBio RS system at the Germany-based firm is projected for early 2011.

“Pacific Biosciences has chosen GATC Biotech to be our first European service provider because the company is well experienced in applying major sequencing technologies in a broad spectrum of projects and in gearing up new sequencing technologies quickly for lab routines,” remarks Terry Pizzie, vp Europe at Pacific.

The PacBio RS system is based on Pacific’s Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT™) technology, which hinges on the ability to observe DNA synthesis molecule by molecule, as it occurs in real time. The resulting PacBio RS is Pacific’s first commercial platform to be developed using the SMRT approach. The firm claims the system allows read lengths averaging over 1,000 base pairs, and in some instances up to 10,000 base pairs, to facilitate mapping and assembly. Speed is another beneficial feature with less than a day required to complete all processes from sample preparation to sequencing results, and a typical sequencing run requiring just 30 minutes of instrument time, it adds.

In addition to DNA sequencing applications, researchers using the PacBio RS system have also developed SMRT detection protocols for applications including the direct observation of transcription, reverse transcription, translation, and ligand-protein binding. Pacific hopes to further develop these applications and introduce them commercially in the future.

Based in Menlo Park, CA, Pacific expanded into Europe just last month, and announced that the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute had become the first European organization to install a PacBio RS platform as part of Pacific’s early-access program.

GATC says the PacBio RS system represents its fifth sequencing technology. The firm already operates nine ABI 3730xl systems, two Roche GS FLX platforms, three Illumina Genome AnalyzerII instruments, and two Illumina HiSeq2000 systems, the second or which was purchased in July.

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