Most gene sequencers require thousands of copies of a DNA strand. But Helicos BioSciences’ new system can sequence a single molecule, simplifying sample preparation and decreasing cost. It can also gauge gene activity by counting messenger RNAs, molecules that help translate genes into proteins; its ability to rapidly determine chemicals’ effects on gene activity could speed drug development. With improvements to just its reagent kits, the system could ultimately deliver the $1,000 genome.
Cost: $1,350,000; single-use reagent kit: $18,000
Company: Helicos BioSciences