Longas Launches, Unveiling Morphoseq™ Long Read DNA Sequencing Technology

Sydney, Australia, May 16, 2019 – Longas Technologies Pty Ltd (‘Longas’), a developer of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, today emerges from stealth mode, unveiling its Morphoseq™ technology and announcing the appointment to CEO of Nick McCooke, who built and led the team at Solexa that pioneered NGS prior to the company being acquired by Illumina.

Morphoseq is a disruptive technology designed to dramatically improve the performance of industry-standard NGS platforms by increasing effective read lengths, with benefits in accuracy and cost efficiency. It was developed over the last few years by a team led by world-leading computational biologist Professor Aaron Darling, CSO at Longas. Morphoseq converts short read sequencers into ‘virtual long read’ sequencers, enabling finished-quality genome assemblies with high accuracy, including resolution of difficult-to-assemble genomic regions. Longas has an extensive portfolio of international patent filings covering the Morphoseq technology.

Longas is a spin out from the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), funded by Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and investment from the Company’s founders and directors. In addition to Professor Aaron Darling, co-founders from UTS include Dr Catherine Burke and Professor Ian Charles, previously Director of the ithree institute and now Director of the Quadram Institute, UK.

The rise of high-throughput, low cost DNA sequencing has made genome sequencing routine and affordable, but has come at the cost of read length,” explains Longas’ co-founder and CSO Professor Aaron Darling. “It is very difficult for assembly methods to resolve genomic repeats that are longer than the read length. But long repeats are present at many of the most clinically informative parts of genomes, such as drug resistance genes in bacteria and the MHC locus in humans. The ability to accurately assemble and phase these into individual chromosomes for humans and microorganisms has important clinical and epidemiological applications

Nick McCooke, who has been a non-executive director of the company since 2015, has taken on the role of CEO to lead commercialization and industry partnering. As founding CEO of Solexa, he took the company from spin-out to its NASDAQ listing in 2005. He led the development of the world’s leading NGS technology, which became the basis of Illumina’s NGS product line. Currently pursuing a portfolio career, with a focus on disruptive genomics technologies, he is also a Non-Executive Director of Evonetix Ltd and Bioventix plc. Prior board and leadership positions in the UK, Belgium, USA and Japan include DNA Electronics, inventor of semiconductor sequencing, Biogazelle, Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, Pronota, Solexa, Rapigene, Innovex, Quintiles and Celltech, as well as a Trustee of the Association of Medical Research Charities. Nick has an MBA from London Business School and is a graduate in engineering.

Commenting on the investment in the new Company, Dr Stephen Thompson, Chairman of Longas and Managing Director at Brandon Capital, the venture capital firm that manages the MRCF said: “Longas is an exciting opportunity that could help transform the research, epidemiology and clinical genomics fields. Its technology solves a key problem in NGS and promises to have an important impact within the NGS market, a market that is expected to grow from US$5.7 billion last year to US$20 billion by 2025.”

CEO Nick McCooke added: “As its speed and accuracy increases, and cost reduces, DNA sequencing is having a massive impact in a wide number of fields. There is an expanding opportunity for technologies that work in tandem with the main sequencing platforms, improving key aspects of their performance.”

Details of the Morphoseq technology will be presented during the ‘Sequencing, Finishing and Analysis in the Future’ meeting, May 21 – 23, Santa Fe, NM, USA. The presentation by Professor Aaron Darling, CSO, entitled ‘Introducing Morphoseq™: high accuracy long reads from short read platforms’ is on 21 May 2019 at 4.30pm MDT (22 May 8.30am Sydney).