Study on first new potential drug for tuberculosis in 40 years

454 Life Sciences, a majority-owned subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation, announced today that its proprietary whole genome sequencing technology was used by scientists at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development L.L.C. (J&JPRD) to help understand the basis of tuberculosis drug resistance.

An article entitled "A Diarylquinoline Drug Active on the ATP Synthase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis," was published online in Science Express on December 9, 2004. The article details the discovery of a potential antimicrobial treatment for tuberculosis (TB) that targets a newly identified pathway discovered with the use of 454 Life Sciences' technology. The article will be published in the January 14, 2005 edition of the journal Science.

"We are very pleased that our technology was applied by Johnson & Johnson to better understand the basis of drug-resistant TB and identify the target for this new antibiotic, which is currently being investigated as a treatment for this devastating infectious disease," stated Michael Egholm, Ph.D., Vice President of Molecular Biology at 454 Life Sciences. "We believe that 454's novel technology for whole genome sequencing will play an increasingly important role in drug development, as well as agriculture and bioindustrial processes, diagnosis of disease, biodefense, and public health."

Four entire bacterial genomes, one from the organism that causes tuberculosis and three from related strains, were sequenced with 454's novel technology and sequencing instrument. Results were confirmed by targeted sequencing effort at J&JPRD in Beerse, Belgium using traditional Sanger sequencing technology.

Based on proprietary picoliter-technologies, patented light emitting sequencing chemistries, and state of the art informatics, 454 Life Sciences' technology is able to sequence at least 100 times faster than other currently available systems. 454's technology enables one individual to prepare and sequence a genome after performing a single sample preparation, irrespective of the size of the genome being studied. 454 Life Sciences has provided sequencing services to its strategic partners since 2004, and anticipates shipping instruments to select customers during the first quarter of 2005.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious disease transmitted through the air that infects the lungs and potentially other parts of the body. People infected with TB may have "latent disease," which could remain inactive, while other people may develop "active disease" resulting in a contagious disease that can be life threatening. Each year more than nine million people become infected with either latent or active TB and approximately two million deaths occur from the disease worldwide. Combinations of antibiotics taken everyday for several months are required for the treatment of TB, but are becoming increasingly ineffective as TB becomes resistant to current therapies. The development of new antibiotics that overcome resistance and shorten the length of treatment for this infection remain a critical task.


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