GnuBio’s participation in industry’s drive to make sub-$1000 whole-genome sequencing a reality was given a funding leg-up with the firm’s receipt of a $4.5 million Phase II SBIR grant through the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Advanced DNA Sequencing Technology Program. In all, six projects have been chosen to share $19 million in funding under the award’s program to advance DNA sequencing technologies.

GnuBio’s desktop sequencing platform is based on a microfluidic DNA sequencing approach that integrates target enrichment, PCR, sequencing, and informatics in a single system. Essentially, all the steps required are encompassed in a single cartridge, removing the need for any sample preparation steps that are required for other commercial sequencing platforms, the firm claims. GnuBio claims its instrument in addition demonstrates read lengths of up to 1,000 bp and accuracy of over 99.9% per base. A beta system that is capable of inline selection of sequencing targets, inline PCR, inline sequencing, and real-time informatics is being prepared for launch. The commercial system is expected to cost about $50,000.

“Sequencing reactions on the GnuBio platform take place inside droplets using minute reagent volumes,” explains Tal Raz, the firm’s vp of molecular biology. “The NHGRI grant will be used to further reduce the size of these droplets and increase parallel processing of sequencing reactions to enable extremely low-cost and rapid seqeuncing of large targets such as exomes and genomes.”

GnuBio’s aim is to launch an affordable sequencing platform that could be used as part of routine patient care, adds John Boyce, president and CEO. “This grant will enable us to expand our RYD capacity and enhance our core technology by increasing the throughput capability and enabling whole-genome sequencing.”

Earlier this month the firm moved into bigger premises to facilitate its transition from R&D to commercializing the sequencing platform. “The additional space will allow us to bring all initial manufacturing capabilities, from the consumables to the instrumentation, in house,” Mr. Boyce stated. “The new facility will also provide the necessary space for the first critical hires for our commercial team.”

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