BRANFORD, Conn. – November 15, 2006 – CuraGen Corporation's (NASDAQ: CRGN) majority-owned subsidiary 454 Life Sciences today announced that comparison of the human and chimpanzee genomes to Neandertal DNA sequences determined by 454 SequencingTM reveals that modern human and Neandertal DNA sequences diverged on average about 500,000 years ago and the effective size of the ancestral population of the two groups was similar to that of modern humans. The publication is the impetus of the collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology to sequence the complete Neandertal genome. The research, published online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature, is titled: "Analysis of one million base pairs of Neandertal DNA".
"Direct high-throughput 454 Sequencing of a DNA extract from a Neandertal fossil has thus far yielded a significant portion of the Neandertal genome, including over one million base pairs of hominoid nuclear DNA sequences, giving us the confidence to commence with the sequencing of the entire Neandertal genome," explained Svante Pääbo, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute and lead author of the Nature article. "Sequencing the Neandertal genome offers the unique possibility to identify genetic changes specific to the genome of anatomically fully modern humans."
A parallel study on the same Neandertal sample also appears online in the journal Science this week. "The study was performed with conventional library preparation and more than 90% of the base pairs generated were from 454 Sequencing,." continued Dr. Pääbo, co-author of the Science paper.
"The publication of articles in both Nature and Science is further validation of 454 Sequencing technology and demonstrates that we are the emerging gold standard for broad, fast and accurate sequencing of any genome, even one from highly degraded samples," said Christopher McLeod, President and CEO of 454 Life Sciences. "We believe that the Neandertal genome promises to yield more insight into human biology than the sequencing of any individual human."
Due to contamination of fossil samples by microbial DNA, the task of sequencing the Neandertal genome is much more extensive than the task of sequencing the human genome. 454 Life Sciences' Genome Sequencer 20 System makes such an endeavor feasible by allowing approximately a quarter of a million single DNA strands from small amounts of bone to be sequenced in only about five hours by a single machine. The DNA sequences determined by the Genome Sequencer 20 System are 100-200 base pairs in length, which coincides neatly with the length of ancient DNA fragments.
The Max Planck Society's decision to fund the project is based on the analysis of approximately one million base pairs of nuclear Neandertal DNA from a 38,000-year-old Croatian fossil, sequenced by 454 Life Sciences and reported in the afore mentioned Nature paper. Over the next two years, the Neandertal sequencing team will reconstruct a draft of the 3 billion bases that made up the genome of Neandertals. An intermediate goal will be the completion of the Neandertal mitochondrial genome which will answer the question of maternal Neandertal DNA contribution to present day human DNA.
The Genome Sequencer 20TM system (GS 20) is exclusively distributed for 454 Life Sciences by Roche Applied Science, a division of Roche Diagnostics. Visit the Roche Diagnostics website for more information on purchasing 454 products at http://www.roche-applied-science.com.
About 454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences, established in 2000 as a majority-owned subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation (NASDAQ: CRGN), develops and commercializes novel instrumentation for high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, with specific application to whole-genome sequencing and ultra-deep sequencing of target genes. The hallmarks of 454 SequencingTM are its simple, unbiased sample preparation and massively parallel sequencing, which makes large-scale scientific projects feasible and more affordable. The Genome Sequencer 20TM System enables one individual to prepare and sequence an entire genome, regardless of size. A single instrument using patented light emitting sequencing chemistries produces over 20 million nucleotide bases per five-hour run, more than 60 times the capacity of currently available instruments. 454 Sequencing and the Genome Sequencer 20 System won The Wall Street Journal's top Innovation Award for 2005, and received an R&D 100 Editor's Choice Award as one of the most technologically significant products introduced in 2006. The 454 Sequencing Center offers sequencing services directly to customers on a fee for service basis. The Genome Sequencer 20 system is exclusively distributed for 454 Life Sciences by Roche Applied Science, a division of Roche Diagnostics. For additional information please visit http://www.454.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements include statements regarding future expectations, beliefs, intentions, goals, strategies, plans or prospects regarding the future, including the future effect of 454 Sequencing on research in the mechanisms of RNA interference. Such statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen caution investors that there can be no assurance that actual results or business conditions will not differ materially from those projected or suggested in such forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the early stage of development of 454 Life Sciences' products and technologies; customer acceptance of 454 Life Sciences' products and technologies; 454 Life Sciences' ability to scale-up production of its products and technologies; disputes between 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen; the success of competing products and technologies; technological uncertainty and product development risks; uncertainties of clinical trials, government regulation and healthcare reform; uncertainty of additional funding with respect to both CuraGen and 454 Life Sciences; 454 Life Sciences' and CuraGen's history of incurring losses and the uncertainty of achieving profitability; CuraGen's stage of development as a biopharmaceutical company; patent infringement claims against 454 Life Sciences' and CuraGen's products, processes and technologies; the ability to protect 454 Life Sciences' and CuraGen's patents and proprietary rights; uncertainties relating to commercialization rights; product liability exposure; and competition. Please refer to CuraGen's Annual and Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q for a complete description of these risks. 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
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