Single-molecule real-time platform is expected to have long reads and shorter run times.

Pacific Biosciences raised $68 million to help development of a DNA sequencing technology. Founded in 2004, the company is working to develop a single-molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing system. PacBio expects the commercial launch of its SMRT™ Sequencing System in the second half of 2010.

This technology could enable the observation of natural DNA synthesis by a DNA polymerase as it occurs. The company reports that the technology will have long reads as well as short run times and produce high-quality sequence data with less effort and cost.

The current financing comes from a combination of new and previous investors including Monsanto, the Wellcome Trust, and Sutter Hill Ventures. Bill Castell, chairman of the board of governors for the Wellcome Trust, believes that PacBio’s DNA sequencing technology has the power to unlock how inheritance and environmental factors affect human health.

PacBio explains that its SMRT technology is built upon two key innovations that overcome major challenges facing the field of DNA sequencing: the SMRT chip, which enables observation of individual fluorophores against a dense background of labeled nucleotides by maintaining a high signal-to-noise ratio, and phospholinked nucleotides, which produce a completely natural DNA strand through fast, accurate, and processive DNA synthesis.

In July 2008 the company secured $100 million in a Series E financing. “The fact that we have been able to raise a total of $188 million since last summer during a very difficult economic market is further validation of our business and the promise of our disruptive technology platform,” points out Hugh Martin, CEO.

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