Helicos BioSciences Announces Publication in Nature Methods

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Describes Innovative Virtual Terminator(TM) Nucleotides for Single Molecule Sequencing


Cambridge, MA - Jul 20, 2009 - Helicos BioSciences Corporation (NASDAQ: HLCS), a life science company focused on innovative genetic analysis technologies, today announced the publication of a seminal discovery in nucleotide chemistry for single molecule sequencing. The study, now appearing in the on-line edition of Nature Methods, demonstrates the synthesis and use of novel, fluorescently labeled, reversible terminator nucleotide analogs for use in single molecule DNA sequencing. These Virtual Terminator(TM) nucleotide analogs enable the accurate sequencing of single molecules of DNA by ensuring the step-wise incorporation of single nucleotides in homopolymer sequences. The article will appear in the August 2009 print issue of Nature Methods.


"Single molecule sequencing-by-synthesis presents major challenges and stringent requirements in terms of nucleotide chemistry," said J. William Efcavitch, PhD, the company's Chief Technology Officer. "The data in Nature Methods demonstrate that our nucleotides meet the requirements for robust, high-fidelity single molecule sequencing."


Scientists at Helicos developed and tested a collection of modified nucleotides for incorporation efficiency, fidelity, termination ability and termination reversibility. The best analogs were subsequently used to accurately sequence a canine bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) using the company's single molecule sequencing technology. Due to the unbiased and accurate nature of the technology, >99% of the BAC was evenly covered with a very low per nucleotide error rate. Unlike amplification-based platforms, the Helicos system produces even error rates throughout virtually the entire length of every read, provides a very low substitution error rate, and does not suffer from significant %GC biases. This has major benefits for applications such as targeted resequencing and whole genome resequencing, for which accuracy and even coverage are of paramount importance.


"The creation of Virtual Terminator chemistry is another milestone in our development of innovative genetic analysis solutions for the research community, and is a testament to our leadership in the single molecule sequencing space," said Steve Lombardi, President of Helicos.


The company has made sequencing data sets available on the HeliSphereTM Technology Center (http://open.helicosbio.com/), their open access Web site for sharing Helicos data sets and bioinformatics software tools.

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