Nick McCooke, former Solexa CEO, Appointed Chief Executive Officer
Sydney, Australia, 16 May 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).
For further information please contact:
Sue Charles/Genevieve Wilson
+44 (0)20 7866 7863
+44 (0)7968 726585
+64 (0)20 698 065
At the company
Nick McCooke, CEO
+44 (0)7900 214268
Notes for editors
About Longas Technologies Pty Ltd
Longas has developed Morphoseq™, 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. Morphoseq effectively 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.
Founded in 2015, and operating in stealth mode until its public launch in May 2019, the Company is a spin out from the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), initially based on research led by Professor Aaron Darling, a world-leading computational biologist and co-founders Professor Ian Charles and Dr Catherine Burke. The Company has an extensive portfolio of international patent filings covering Morphoseq.
Located in Sydney Australia, Longas is headed by renowned NGS leader, Nick McCooke and is funded by Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and investment from the Company’s founders and directors. Its business model is to partner with industry leaders to support the commercial development of its technology.
Morphoseq™ makes high quality long read DNA sequencing accessible and cost-effective. It delivers highly accurate long DNA sequences at a fraction of the cost of existing long read platforms. With modest DNA input requirements and a standard short read DNA sequencer, Morphoseq™ can produce finished de novogenome assemblies, phase haplotypes and more. Sample preparation can be carried out with standard molecular biology consumables and equipment, and its cloud-based end-to-end analysis pipeline returns best in class long reads at the push of a button.
About the ithree institute
The ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) brings together an internationally competitive team focused on addressing key challenges in the understanding and control of infectious diseases in humans and animals. The institute’s innovative science uses a systems biology approach to develop a greater insight into basic biology and its application to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.
About the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Brandon Capital
Brandon Capital Partners is a venture capital firm that manages the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF). The MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds, the Australian and New Zealand governments, Australian state governments and more than 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of early-stage biomedical discoveries linked with member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. The MRCF has supported more than 40 start-up companies to date, 85 per cent of which were founded by the MRCF.