BRANFORD, Conn. - May 31, 2007 - 454 Life Sciences Corporation, in collaboration with scientists at the Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, announced today in Houston, Texas, the completion of a project to sequence the genome of James D. Watson, Ph.D., co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA. The mapping of Dr. Watson's genome was completed using the Genome Sequencer FLX™ system and marks the first individual genome to be sequenced for less than $1 million.
"When we began the Human Genome Project, we anticipated it would take 15 years to sequence the 3 billion base pairs and identify all the genes," said Richard Gibbs, Ph.D. , director, Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine. "We completed it in 13 years in 2003 - coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the work of Watson and Dr. Francis Crick that described the double helix. Today, we give James Watson a DVD containing his personal genome - a project completed in only two months. It demonstrates how far sequencing technology has come in a short time."
Christopher McLeod, president and CEO of 454 Life Sciences, added: "The sequencing of Dr. Watson's genome validates the approach taken by 454 Life Sciences in developing a technology to make the sequencing of individual human genomes quick and affordable. As we take another step on the path toward the X-Prize and reducing the cost of human genome sequencing to $10,000, we hope to enable a new era of medicine that is tailored to a patient's unique genetic profile."
Michael Egholm, Ph.D., vice president of research and development of 454 Life Sciences, said: "The sequencing of Dr. Watson's genome has been done on production Genome Sequencer FLX™ systems, where we could take advantage of the instrument's high quality data and long read lengths. Using the unbiased 454 Sequencing™ technology, we obtained a near complete picture of Dr. Watson's genome and were able to identify missing pieces of the public reference genome generated by the Human Genome Project. By making his genome publicly available, Dr. Watson will provide a tremendous resource to researchers and future generations."
Dr. Watson will receive a DVD with his genomic sequence. He will decide which of his data will be published.
"When I conceived the 454 Sequencing™ technology, I envisioned making routine individual genome sequencing a reality to help with personal medical care," said Jonathan Rothberg, founder and former chairman of 454 Life Sciences. "Since Dr. Watson is the co-discoverer of DNA's structure and 1962 Nobel Laureate, it is only appropriate to work with him on this ambitious genome sequencing project. This project will pave the way for exploring life at the ultimate level by uncovering what makes each individual unique."
About 454 Life Sciences
454 Life Sciences develops and commercializes novel instrumentation for high-throughput DNA sequencing. Specific applications include whole-genome sequencing, RNA analysis and ultra-deep sequencing of target genes. The hallmarks of 454 Sequencing™ are its simple, unbiased sample preparation and massively parallel sequencing, which makes large-scale scientific projects feasible and more affordable. 454 Sequencing and the Genome Sequencer 20 System won The Wall Street Journal's top Innovation Award in 2005 and received an R&D 100 Editor's Choice Award as one of the most technologically significant products in 2006. The 454 Sequencing Center offers sequencing services directly to customers on a fee for service basis. 454 Life Sciences is a business unit of Roche Applied Science, a division of Roche Diagnostics. For additional information, please visit http://www.
About Roche and the Roche Diagnostics Division
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As a supplier of innovative products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, the group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche is a world leader in diagnostics, the leading supplier of medicines for cancer and transplantation and a market leader in virology. Roche employs roughly 70,000 people in 150 countries and has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Roche's Diagnostics Division offers a uniquely broad product portfolio and supplies a wide array of innovative testing products and services to researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories world-wide. For further information, please visit our website www.roche.com.
Note to Editor's: For more information, including background and multimedia around the event, please visit http://www.