Helicos BioSciences Corporation (NASDAQ:HLCS) today announced that the RIKEN Yokohama Institute Omics Science Center (OSC) has agreed to purchase four Helicos™ Genetic Analysis Systems. The transaction represents the first multisystem sale of the Helicos system to a large genome center. Shipments are expected to take place in September, with one system remaining in Cambridge to be used in a scientific collaboration between the two parties that began last year.
RIKEN’s OSC recently received funding from the Japanese government to assume the role of the country’s primary national DNA sequencing center. As part of Japan’s renowned RIKEN, the OSC has the unifying objective of developing a multi-purpose, large-scale analysis center to elucidate molecular networks in biological systems. A major component of the national project for the RIKEN OSC is the “Cell Innovation Project”, which is aimed at understanding cell function at the molecular level using next-generation and single-molecule sequencing technologies.
In addition to the sale of systems and reagents, RIKEN and Helicos will continue a scientific collaboration that began in November 2008. The collaborative research plan is designed to enable new insights into cell biology and to explore novel methods to ultimately enable singlecell transcriptome analyses. The OSC Director, Yoshihide Hayashizaki, M.D., Ph.D., will comanage the research plan with Patrice Milos, Ph.D., Helicos Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer.
“Our relationship with the RIKEN OSC led by Dr. Hayashizaki and RIKEN’s commitment to purchase the Helicos systems demonstrates the value of Helicos technology to the scientific community,” explained Helicos President Steve Lombardi. “We’re proud to have such a prestigious institution as our first multi-system genome center customer. Their commitment is further validation of the scientific and commercial importance of single molecule sequencing.”
“The single-molecule sequencing platform developed by Helicos will help accelerate on-going progress in transcriptomics analysis at RIKEN’s OSC,” remarked Dr. Hayashizaki. “The Helicos system offers us the ability to make unbiased measurements of nucleic acids without amplification, to utilize very low starting amounts of nucleic acid, and to generate over 800 million sequences per run, providing accurate and precise measurements. These benefits of single-molecule sequencing to quantitative expression profiling, including measuring the activity of gene regulatory regions, will greatly expand our range of experimental approaches so that we can reveal more of the unknown biology of the genome to the scientific community.”
“RIKEN has been at the forefront of scientific and technological advances that have revolutionized genomic sciences,” stated Patrice Milos. “Our collaboration over the last year, culminating in this multi-unit system acquisition, once again demonstrates the innovation and vision that serves as the RIKEN hallmark. We are honored to continue our work together.”