International Census Of Marine Microbes Reveals A Greater Level Of Marine Diversity Using Ultrafast Sequencing System From Roche Diagnostics

MANHEIM, Germany, Sept. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Roche Applied Science, a business area of Roche Diagnostics, and 454 Life Sciences Corporation, a majority-owned subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation (Nasdaq: CRGN - News), today announced that the International Census of Marine Microbes has purchased a Genome Sequencer 20(TM) system as part of a multi-institutional study of microbial life in the world’s oceans. The announcement follows a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online journal describing how the Genome Sequencer 20 and 454 Sequencing(TM) revealed that microbial diversity is ten to 100 times greater than scientists knew existed in the ocean.

“We can use the Genome Sequencer 20 to inventory and provide exquisite detail of the bacteria in any sample, allowing us to pick up subtle changes,” said Mitchell L. Sogin, director of Marine Biological Laboratory’s Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative and Molecular Biology and Evolution. “454 Sequencing enables a level of ultra-deep sequencing that reveals ten to 100 times more diversity than we previously realized using Sanger sequencing.”

Dr. Sogin and other scientists now believe the number of microorganisms in the ocean could be in the range of 5 million to 10 million, well beyond the 500,000 that studies had previously revealed. These microorganisms could hold the answers to how life evolved in the ocean and what impact environmental changes have on marine ecosystems.

“The Genome Sequencer 20 system has another application in a new field, allowing us to see marine microbial diversity to which we were blind before,” stated Manfred Baier, Head of Roche Applied Science. “The palette of microbes could provide a picture of the health of our oceans.”

The Genome Sequencer 20 System is the first sequencing system on the market that can generate hundreds of thousands of DNA sequences in one run, rapidly and comprehensively conducting high-throughput nucleotide sequencing. 454 Sequencing, which is more comprehensive and cost-efficient than conventional methods, enabled Dr. Sogin’s team to sequence DNA samples from the harshest ocean environments in the world, such as those marked by extremely hot temperatures or high acidity.

Scientists used a method of 454 Sequencing called ‘454 tag sequencing’ on eight water samples taken from deep in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, including water near hydrothermal vents on an underwater Pacific Ocean volcano 300 miles off the coast of Oregon, and from Atlantic Ocean sites between Greenland and Ireland. The Genome Sequencer 20 system requires only small snippets of genetic code to identify an organism, which makes it possible to perform thousands of such tests simultaneously. Each sample showed a diverse group of microorganisms. In a single liter of seawater, for example, researchers found more than 20,000 microorganisms, many of them rare or in low abundance.

“Dr. Sogin’s research adds to the breadth of applications enabled by 454 Sequencing,” explained Christopher K McLeod, President and CEO of 454 Life Sciences. “Ultra-deep sequencing of marine microbes on the GS20 economically reveals an unprecedented level of detail compared to conventional sequencing technologies.”

With the Genome Sequencer 20 system, scientists believe they will be able to study patterns and trends of these rare microorganisms in an effort to determine the long-term effects of environmental changes in the ocean. For example, such knowledge could have been useful in evaluating the potential environmental damage to the Gulf Coast inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.

About 454 Life Sciences

454 Life Sciences, a 66% majority-owned subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation (Nasdaq: CRGN - News), is commercializing novel instrumentation and measurement services for rapidly and comprehensively conducting high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, with specific application to sequencing of whole genomes and ultra-deep sequencing of target genes. 454 Life Sciences’ Genome Sequencer 20 System(TM) enables one individual to prepare and sequence an entire genome. The hallmarks of 454 Sequencing(TM) are its simple, unbiased sample preparation and massively parallel sequencing. A single instrument using patented light emitting sequencing chemistries produces over 20 million nucleotide bases per five-hour run, totaling more than 60 times the capacity of instruments using the current macro-scale technology. The Genome Sequencer 20 system is exclusively distributed for 454 Life Sciences by Roche Applied Science, a division of Roche Diagnostics. For additional information please visit

About Roche and the Roche Diagnostics Division

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As a supplier of innovative products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, the group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is a world leader in diagnostics, the leading supplier of medicines for cancer and transplantation and a market leader in virology. In 2005 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totaled 27.3 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 8.2 billion Swiss francs. Roche employs roughly 70,000 people in 150 countries and has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Roche’s Diagnostics Division offers a uniquely broad product portfolio and supplies a wide array of innovative testing products and services to researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories world-wide. For further information, please visit our websites and

Safe Harbor

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. These statements include statements regarding the impact of the 454 Sequencing technology on environmental and oceanic studies. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward- looking statements. 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen caution investors that there can be no assurance that actual results or business conditions will not differ materially from those projected or suggested in such forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the early stage of development of 454 Life Sciences’ products and technologies; customer acceptance of 454 Life Sciences’ products and technologies; 454 Life Sciences’ ability to scale-up production of its products and technologies; disputes between 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen; the success of competing products and technologies; technological uncertainty and product development risks; uncertainties of clinical trials, government regulation and healthcare reform; uncertainty of additional funding with respect to both CuraGen and 454 Life Sciences; 454 Life Sciences’ and CuraGen’s history of incurring losses and the uncertainty of achieving profitability; CuraGen’s stage of development as a biopharmaceutical company; patent infringement claims against 454 Life Sciences’ and CuraGen’s products, processes and technologies; the ability to protect 454 Life Sciences’ and CuraGen’s patents and proprietary rights; uncertainties relating to commercialization rights; product liability exposure; and competition. Please refer to CuraGen’s Annual and Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q for a complete description of these risks. 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

454® is a registered trademark of 454 Life Sciences Corporation. 454 Life Sciences(TM), Genome Sequencer 20(TM), PicoTiterPlate(TM), and 454 Sequencing(TM) are trademarks of 454 Life Sciences Corporation.

Roche Diagnostics Dr. Burkhard Ziebolz +49 621 759 8555 454 Life Sciences Peter Dacey Vice President, Finance (877) 890-GNOM Noonan Russo Benjamin Carmichael (212) 845-4242

Source: 454 Life Sciences Corporation; CuraGen Corporation