A pride of Lions: Sequencing and bioinformatics speedway; Revving the discovery engine

Sequencing and bioinformatics speedway

By Karen Bernstein Editor-in-ChiefThe renewed European interest in biotechnology is spurring a surge of new startups, many of which are focused specifically on serving the needs of other European companies. One such newcomer is Lion bioscience AG , a Heidelberg, Germany, company that seeks to fill the growing need for nucleotide sequencing and bioinformatics, mainly in Europe.

Co-founder and CEO Friedrich von Bohlen knew 14 years ago that he wanted to be a biotech entrepreneur, studying biochemistry and business administration. Given the lack of a biotech sector in Germany, he gained corporate experience starting in 1992 at Fresenius AG, followed by jobs at two automotive suppliers.

Beginning in 1996, he began pulling together the three strands that form Lion. One of his first moves was to contact Wilhelm Ansorge, a professor of physics at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Ansorge is the inventor of a new generation of sequencing machines that Lion believes outpace the best machines now commercially available, including higher throughput, longer reading lengths per clone, higher capacity per gel and greater accuracy.

"To step into genomics, you need a Formula One car, not a Volkswagen," von Bohlen said.

Ansorge's Arakis two laser system has a longer reading length than commercially available machines - up to 1200 bases per clone in a single reaction, or more than 2 kb when using the "doublex mode," which Lion believes is important for researchers who want to do full-length sequencing.

Doublex mode allows simultaneous sequencing on both strands of template DNA with two different primers labeled with two different dyes. There is no cross-signaling, and as a result, there is an internal quality control

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