Gene-mapper raises $100m from venture heavyweights

Pacific Biosciences has lured the backing of an eclectic consortium of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Ontario Teachers’ and fixed income hedge fund Deerfield.

Pacific Biosciences has raised $100 million in series E financing from a mix of prominent venture firms and other investors as the company strides towards commercialising its unique DNA-sequencing technology in less than two years.

Intel Capital, the venture arm of semiconductor giant Intel, and fixed income hedge fund manager Deerfield Capital Management led the latest investment round, according to a statement released by PacBio.

Other new investors in the company included Morgan Stanley, Redmile Group, T. Rowe Price and an unspecified “large financial institution”.

PacBio’s previous backers who also contributed to the latest financing round included Mohr Davidow Ventures, Alloy Ventures, Maverick Capital, Alliance Bernstein, DAG Ventures, Ontario Teachers’ Private Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.

Founded in 2004, Menlo Park-based PacBio is attempting to develop DNA sequencing technology that can read each DNA letter in an individual’s genetic makeup, a level of detail unprecedented in the competitive genetic mapping landscape.

Led by former ONI Systems chief executive Hugh Martin, the company is seeking to commercialize its real-time sequencing technology by 2010, eventually offering a complete individual genome mapping service for less than $1,000.

To that end, PacBio received a $6.6 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, the largest grant awarded to any company by the federally funded research agency. PacBio hopes that one day its genome-sequencing procedure will be adapted as an integral component of routine medical care, offering glimpses of an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases and other factors affecting a person’s health