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30GB of High-Quality Data at 150MB per Hour Throughput Equivalent to 5 to 10 Human Genomes is Industry Best

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb 04, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Helicos BioSciences (Nasdaq:HLCS) today announced significant improvements in the performance of the Helicos(TM) Genetic Analysis System, available immediately for customers. With these improvements, the system is generating 20 to 30 Gigabases (GB) of high-quality sequence data per run, an output equivalent to the sequencing of 7 to 10 human genomes per run. This new performance point generates high-quality data at a rate of 100 to 150 Megabases (MB) per hour and at a cost of $0.45 to $0.60 per Megabase. These results, demonstrated in the complete and accurate sequencing of the model organism C. elegans, will be presented by Bill Efcavitch, PhD, the company's Chief Technology Officer, at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) meeting in Marco Island, Florida, from February 4-7, 2009. These data are available on the HeliSphere(TM) Technology Center (, the company's open access website showcasing single molecule sequence data and open source informatics tools.

Having validated the system's initial commercial performance in September 2008, the company has made the first in a series of planned performance improvements to its patented True Single Molecule Sequencing (tSMS)(TM) chemistry that makes better use of the 1GB per hour capacity of the HeliScope(TM) Single Molecule Sequencer. In just four months, through better image processing software and a new chemistry formulation, sequencing performance was improved without any changes or upgrades to the system hardware.

These improvements resulted in increases in both the number of usable strands, as well as in the average length and accuracy. System performance is now between 600 million to 900 million strands having an average length of 33 bases, which results in 20 to 30 GB of usable sequence per run. These data are not raw output of the system but the amount of usable data in a specific experiment. The accuracy of these data was improved to a point such that ~99.5% of the usable strands (a%JPY 25 bases with a range of 25 to 55 bases) have a%n 1 substitution error per strand.

Proof of the system's performance was demonstrated recently by sequencing the 104MB genome of the nematode C.elegans at 27-fold coverage (~2.8 GB of sequence) using just 7 of the 50 channels of a single run on a HeliScope Single Molecule Sequencer. Consensus accuracy above 5-fold coverage was 99.999%, or 1 error in 100,000 bases, which resulted in the identification of hundreds of single nucleotide substitution polymorphisms in the strain sequenced. A sample of 24 predicted polymorphisms were sequenced with Sanger sequencing; all 24 predicted polymorphisms were confirmed. The company is currently undertaking the sequencing of a complete human genome, using its proprietary paired-read approach.

About Helicos BioSciences

Helicos BioSciences is a life science company focused on innovative genetic analysis technologies for the research, drug discovery, and diagnostic markets. Helicos' proprietary True Single Molecule Sequencing, tSMSTM, technology allows direct measurement of billions of strands of DNA enabling scientists to perform experiments and ask questions never before possible. Helicos is a recipient of the $1,000 genome grant and is committed to providing scientists the tools to unlock the era of genomic medicine. The company's corporate headquarters are located at One Kendall Square, Building 700, Cambridge, MA 02139, and its telephone number is (617) 264-1800.

Certain statements made in this press release that are not based on historical information are forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. This press release contains express or implied forward-looking statements relating to, among other things, the prospective value of the technical performance improvements of the company's productsdiscussed in this press release and management's plans, objectives and strategies. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Helicos' control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. In particular, the risks and uncertainties include, among other things, our ability to successfully complete and/or scale the manufacturing process and commercialize the Helicos Genetic Analysis System; our history of operating losses and ability to achieve profitability; our ability to establish manufacturing capabilities; the research and development spending levels of academic, clinical and governmental research institutions and pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agriculture companies who may purchase our Helicos Genetic Analysis System; our reliance on third-party suppliers; competition; changing technology and customer requirements; our ability to operate in an emerging market; market acceptance of our technology; the length of our sales and implementation cycles; our dependence on large contracts for the sale and implementation of our Helicos Genetic Analysis System; failure of our technology and products; our ability to maintain customer relationships and contracts; ethical, legal and social concerns surrounding the use of genetic information; our ability to retain our personnel and hire additional skilled personnel; our ability to manage our growth; our ability to control our operating expenses; general economic and business conditions; our ability to obtain capital when desired on favorable terms; and the volatility of the market price of our common stock. Existing and prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. Helicos undertakes no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise. For additional disclosure regarding these and other risks faced by Helicos, see the disclosure contained in Helicos' public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.