Amadeus Capital Partners has led a Series B financing of $14.4 million in Solexa Ltd, a company at the forefront of developing systems that will allow the rapid sequencing of individual genomes. Other previous investors, Abingworth Management, Schroder Ventures Life Sciences and Oxford Bioscience Partners, also participated in the round, which brings the total investment raised by the company to date to just over $40m. 

Solexa, based in Cambridge UK and Menlo Park, California, has established a leading position in the next generation sequencing space and expects to launch its first product in 2005. It will have in-house prototype systems available for collaborative projects from early 2005. Initial customers will include those organisations wishing to sequence large regions of genomic DNA, including whole genomes, at costs several orders of magnitude below current levels.

The funding will be used in the development of Solexa’s systems for comprehensive and cost effective analysis of individual genomes, using breakthrough, single molecule-based sequencing technology. It will also enable the company to begin to commercialise its services and systems globally. Separately, Solexa has announced a strategic stock for stock merger with Lynx Therapeutics Inc, a developer of novel genomic analysis solutions. Following the merger, Solexa’s venture investors will retain their interest through shareholdings and board representation in the combined company. 

Commenting on the financing, newly appointed CEO John West, who recently joined Solexa from Applied Biosystems Inc, said: “The closing of the round marks an exciting point of transition for the company, as it moves from a period of innovation and invention into product development and commercialisation. The funding will be used to take our prototype whole genome sequencing systems through to the market and to begin collaborations as early as next year.” 

Hermann Hauser, a director of lead investor Amadeus Capital Partners said: “Solexa’s ground-breaking sequencing technology will play an important role in the coming age of gene-based medicines. The step change that Solexa’s systems offer will enable genome re-sequencing applications, pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine to become an economic reality, delivering substantial health benefits for everyone. As investors who seek to back those technologies that will bring about real changes for the future, we are delighted to be part of this company’s continuing development.”

West, added: “I have seen numerous advanced technologies proposed for DNA analysis since the early 1980s; almost none have reached the market but Solexa has quietly worked on core chemistry and enzymology and made remarkable progress. Its recent acquisition of DNA cluster technology has now closed the signal-to-noise gap and should enable shipments in 2005. 

While other companies propose stretching the microtiter plate concept to the limit with expensive microfluidic designs, Solexa has moved directly to the molecular level. This promises thousand fold higher density than the finest microfluidic chambers, with none of the complexity.”