Complete Genomics, provider of supposedly cheaper and faster DNA sequencing services, has raised $45 million in a fourth round of funding — a huge amount for a biotech company in today’s economic environment. Based in Mountain View, Calif., the company says it will be able to sequence people’s genes in only a few days, and for the bargain price of $5,000.
Apparently, genetic companies are where it’s at in the life science market right now. Earlier this month, Pacific Biosciences, another firm looking to speed sequencing practices, commanded a large $68 million in new financing from Wellcome Trust, Monsanto, Sutter Hill Ventures and others.
The money will be used to set up a facility for large-scale sequencing project, slated to open by the beginning of 2010, the company says. The goal is to sequence 10,000 human genomes in the next year at this center. If it does achieve the lower price tag — down from the typical price of between $100,000 and $350,000 — Complete Genomics could achieve the same commercial success as 23andMe, Navigenics and deCODE, startups that also read customers’ DNA, while providing even more in-depth information.
That being said, the company won’t be targeting the consumer market at first, opting instead to sell to pharmaceutical companies, laboratories and other companies that want to refine their genetic testing practices. One such company, called Knome, completely sequences its customers’ genomes for the astronomical price of $350,000. Some reports say Knome is in licensing talks with Complete Genomics to bring its price point down and broaden its appeal.
Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, OVP Venture Partners, Prospect Venture Partners and Highland Capital Management provided the recent round of funding. The company has raised $90 million to date.
[Image from Technology Review]