Emerging Company Profile Hyseq: More than very fast sequencing

Using gel sequencing technology to sequence the entire human genome is a bit like using a Model T to drive across country: it works, it just takes awhile to get there. Hyseq Inc. is developing an alternative, Sequencing-By-Hybridization (SBH), that the company hopes will speed the process by orders of magnitude.

Gel sequencing, introduced in 1976, works by applying an electric field across a gel to size-separate randomly terminated pieces of DNA. According to Hyseq President and CEO Lewis Gruber, the technique is suited to small-scale DNA sequencing, but has been used by default for large-scale projects.

Sequence tags

A problem with gel sequencing, Gruber said, is that it uses sequence tags - small pieces of DNA ends - that aren't reliable for determining the abundance of a particular gene, or for estimating how many genes are in a particular sample. Because there are more pieces of high-abundance genes, using this method misses rare genes, he said. In contrast, Hyseq believes it can obtain the majority of rare cDNAs from any tissue library.