Significant Investment to Accelerate Cancer Research Creates First Commercial Single Source for Combined FFPE Acquisition, FFPE RNA Isolation and Long-Read Sequencing



HUNTSVILLE, Ala., October 15, 2019

Discovery Life Sciences™ (Discovery) announced today its substantial investment in long-read genomic sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences (PacBio). The instrumentation will complement the existing infrastructure of HudsonAlpha Discovery™, Discovery’s genomic sequencing and bioinformatics division. HudsonAlpha Discovery will continue to scale sequencing over a range of technologies, creating the most comprehensive infrastructure to support the most accurate and complete analysis of complex genomic and transcriptomic projects possible. This investment creates a PacBio® Center of Excellence for long-read sequencing.

Existing short-read sequencing is like a complex jigsaw puzzle. Researchers align and merge many short DNA sequences to reconstruct a representation of the reference genome, but the alignment and assembly from short reads has limitations. Long-read sequencing provides additional power and context; recent studies show that it detects structural variants in disease genes that are missed by previous methods. Combining short- and long-read sequencing creates a depth and breadth to comprehensively understand the complex genomics driving cancer and other diseases.

The multiple PacBio Sequel® II Systems that Discovery is acquiring provide highly accurate long reads and supplement HudsonAlpha Discovery’s existing short-read platforms to add resolution across both DNA and RNA applications. In addition to whole genome sequencing for variant detection, the Sequel II Systems will provide high-volume capacity for long-read RNA sequencing of gene isoforms. These sequencing services, combined with the HudsonAlpha Discovery proprietary methods for long-fragment RNA isolation from FFPE and access to millions of FFPE biospecimens, deliver a novel set of applications to the entire genomics community.

Most cancer biospecimens are stored in a Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) format, and Discovery has the largest global inventory—millions of high-quality FFPE biospecimens. HudsonAlpha Discovery is committed to extracting the highest resolution data from those specimens and has developed a proprietary methodology to extract long transcripts from FFPE materials. The investment in the Sequel II System will be used to characterize these transcipts for gene fusions, RNA modifications, and other structural alterations that are best resolved with long-read sequencing.

“This investment enables HudsonAlpha Discovery to conduct long-read sequencing of thousands of high-quality human genomes per year. We’ve developed methods to significantly improve the integrity of RNA isolated from FFPE; now we are marrying the PacBio technology with our proprietary method to improve our ability to see the RNA transcripts in cancer biology,” said Shawn Levy, PhD, Discovery’s chief scientific officer, Genomics. “With these holistic solutions, Discovery is uniquely positioned to help researchers advance their understanding of complex diseases by providing a single partner from specimen selection to short- and long-read sequencing and, finally, to data interpretation and actionable result delivery.”

“We are pleased to be working closely with Discovery Life Sciences as they set up the highest-throughput PacBio Sequencing facility in the world with a goal to advance disease research and population studies,” said Jonas Korlach, PhD, chief scientific officer at Pacific Biosciences.

“We continue to aggressively invest in our laboratory resources to support the rapid advancement of our clients’ research timelines and objectives,” said Glenn Bilawsky, Discovery’s CEO. “Our long-read sequencing services will provide the market with a single source to derive high-quality data from our PacBio systems, in combination with our other offerings in sequencing, cell-based, immunohistochemistry services. Discovery is the first to bundle this combination of scientific services and technology platforms alongside one of the largest global biospecimen inventories under one brand.”

About Discovery Life Sciences

Discovery Life Sciences is the global market leader in biospecimen analysis, procurement, distribution, and scientific services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries. HudsonAlpha Discovery is Discovery’s sequencing and bioinformatics division, a globally recognized service laboratory that leverages the most current genomic research technologies to comprehensively support discovery, translational, and clinical research. Driven by science, the Discovery team engages with customers in an innovative, consultative approach to overcoming obstacles and reaching a faster end result. We are Science at your Service™! For more information, visit dls.com.

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