Pacific Biosciences

Coordinates: 37°28′43″N 122°09′03″W / 37.4787°N 122.1507°W / 37.4787; -122.1507 (headquarters)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

37°28′43″N 122°09′03″W / 37.4787°N 122.1507°W / 37.4787; -122.1507 (headquarters)

Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc.
Founded2004; 19 years ago (2004)
United States
Key people
  • Christian Henry, CEO and President
  • John F. Milligan, Chairman of the Board
RevenueIncrease US$130.5 million (2021)
Decrease US$−210 million (2021)
Decrease US$−181 million (2021)
Total assetsIncrease US$2.01 billion (2021)
Total equityIncrease US$791 million (2021)
Number of employees
728 (Dec 2021)
Footnotes / references

Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (aka PacBio) is an American biotechnology company founded in 2004 that develops and manufactures systems for gene sequencing and some novel real time biological observation.[2][3] PacBio has two principal sequencing platforms: single-molecule real-time sequencing (SMRT), based on the properties of zero-mode waveguides and sequencing by binding (SBB) chemistry, which uses native nucleotides and scarless incorporation for DNA binding and extension.[4][5]


The company was founded based on research done at Cornell University that combined semiconductor processing and photonics with biotechnology research.[6] Three graduate students in the lab of Professors Watt W. Webb — Jonas Korlach — and Harold Craighead — Steve Turner and Mathieu Foquet — became the first employees.

It began under the name Nanofluidics, Inc. The company raised nearly US$400,000,000 in six rounds of primarily venture capital financing, making it one of the most capitalized startups in 2010 leading up to their public offering in October of that year.[7] Key investors included Mohr Davidow Ventures, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Alloy Ventures, and Wellcome Trust.[2]

The company's first commercial product, the PacBio RS, was sold to a limited set of customers in 2010 and was commercially released in early 2011.[8][9] A subsequent version of the sequencer called the PacBio RS II was released in April 2013.[10]


In 2004, Kleiner Perkins entrepreneur-in-residence Hugh Martin became CEO. On 6 January 2012 board member Michael Hunkapiller, PhD assumed the role of CEO.[11] Hunkapiller retired in September 2020, and was replaced by chairman of the board Christian Henry.[12] Henry was a former executive VP and chief commercial officer of Illumina before joining the board at PacBio in July 2018.[13]

Illumina: attempted acquisition[edit]

On 1 November 2018, Illumina, Inc. agreed to purchase PacBio for US$1.2 billion in cash. The deal was expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.[14] In December 2019, the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the acquisition.[15][16] The deal was abandoned with an announcement on 2 January 2020. Illumina further agreed to pay Pacific Biosciences a $98 million US termination fee plus previously agreed upon deal extension payments of $22 million US in February and $6 million US in March 2020.[17]

Sequencing technology[edit]

Sequencing instruments[edit]

A PacBio RSII sequencer
Pacific Biosciences Sequel Sequencer

The company's first scientific instrument, called the PacBio RS, was released to a limited set of customers in late 2010, with full commercial release in early 2011.[18][9] Sequencing provider GATC Biotech was selected by Pacific Biosciences as its first European service provider in late 2010.[19] A new version of the sequencer was released in April 2013. It produced longer sequence reads and higher throughput than the original RS instrument.[10] The RS instrument will officially be supported until the end of 2021.[20] In September 2015, the company released a new sequencing instrument, the Sequel System, with increased sequencing capacity at a smaller size and lower price compared to the PacBio RS II.[21] In October 2020, PacBio announced the Sequel IIe system that featured an advanced on-instrument data processing and cloud enablement allowing for 70% reduction in overall secondary analysis time for certain applications and 90% reduction in file transfer and storage data.[22][23]

Subsequently, in October 2022, PacBio launched a new sequencing system, which can sequence 1,300 human genomes per year as compared to 86 per year of the previous PacBio sequencing machines.[24] . Also in October 2022, PacBio announced the beta testing of a short-read desktop sequencer, Onso, which is available as of 2023.[25][26]

Reagents and SMRT Cells[edit]

To use either instrument, customers must also purchase reagent packs for DNA preparation and sequencing and small consumables called "SMRT Cells." Cells for early forms of the sequencer are slightly less than one-centimeter square and contains tens of thousands of zero-mode waveguides,[4] whereas newer systems have a higher density of cells and contain 25 million zero-mode waveguides (ZMWGs), allowing for faster DNA sequencing.[27][28][29]

Revio system installed at PacBio's lab.

Software and applications[edit]

Their secondary analysis bioinformatics product for the RS, called “SMRT Analysis”, was open source.[30] For the Sequel system the secondary analysis software was reorganized as the "SMRT Link" application. In 2013, the company released new bioinformatics tools for automated genome assembly (HGAP) and finishing (Quiver).[31][32][33]

External links[edit]

  • Company web site
  • Wall Street Journal profile
  • Business data for PacBio:


  1. ^ "Pacific Biosciences 2021 Annual Report (Form 10-K)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. February 28, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Pacific Biosciences Raises Additional $68 Million in Financing".
  3. ^ Brakmann, Susanne (April 5, 2010). "A ribosome in action". Nature. 464 (7291): 987–988. doi:10.1038/464987a. PMID 20393548. S2CID 1742990.
  4. ^ a b Rhoads, Anthony; Au, Kin Fai (October 1, 2015). "PacBio Sequencing and Its Applications". Genomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics. 13 (5): 278–289. doi:10.1016/j.gpb.2015.08.002. ISSN 1672-0229. PMC 4678779. PMID 26542840. Retrieved Mar 13, 2023.
  5. ^ Eisenstein, Michael (January 1, 2023). "Illumina faces short-read rivals". Nature Biotechnology. 41 (1): 3–5. doi:10.1038/s41587-022-01632-4. ISSN 1546-1696. PMID 36653497. S2CID 255971472. Retrieved Mar 8, 2023.
  6. ^ "Pacific Biosciences, Imec to collaborate on single-molecule sequencing solution".
  7. ^ Austin, Colleen DeBaise And Scott (March 9, 2010). "Sizing Up Promising Young Firms". Wall Street Journal – via
  8. ^ "PacBio Reveals Beta System Specs for RS; Says Commercial Release is on Track for First Half of 2011". GenomeWeb. December 7, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "PacBio Ships First Two Commercial Systems; Order Backlog Grows to 44". GenomeWeb. May 3, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "New Products: PacBio's RS II; Cufflinks". GenomeWeb. April 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "Michael Hunkapiller In, Hugh Martin Out as CEO of Pacific Biosciences". January 6, 2012. Retrieved Aug 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "Pacific Biosciences names Christian Henry as president and CEO". August 7, 2020. Retrieved Aug 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "People in the News: Christian Henry, Mike Hunkapiller, Karen Tay Koh, Michael Vounatsos, More". March 6, 2020. Retrieved Aug 10, 2020.
  14. ^ Farr, Christina (November 1, 2018). "DNA sequencing giant Illumina just bought rival Pac Bio for $1.2 billion — here's why". CNBC. Archived from the original on Jul 14, 2019.
  15. ^ Matthew, Herper (December 17, 2019). "FTC moves to block DNA sequencer Illumina's acquisition of PacBio". STAT News. Retrieved Mar 31, 2021.
  16. ^ "FTC Challenges Illumina's Proposed Acquisition of PacBio". Federal Trade Commission. December 17, 2019. Retrieved Mar 31, 2021.
  17. ^ "Illumina abandons $1.2 billion deal to buy rival Pacific Biosciences". CNBC. January 2, 2020. Archived from the original on Jan 3, 2020. Retrieved Jan 3, 2020.
  18. ^ "PacBio Names First 10 Customers for $695,000 Single-Molecule Sequencer; First Shipments Slated for Q2". GenomeWeb. February 23, 2010.
  19. ^ "GATC Biotech to be First European Service Provider for PacBio RS". GenomeWeb. September 21, 2010.
  20. ^ "PacBio Plans Sequel Upgrades, Will Sunset RSII in 2021". GenomeWeb. August 3, 2018.
  21. ^[self-published source]
  22. ^ Hoang, Minh Thuy Vi; Irinyi, Laszlo; Hu, Yiheng; Schwessinger, Benjamin; Meyer, Wieland (January 6, 2022). "Long-Reads-Based Metagenomics in Clinical Diagnosis With a Special Focus on Fungal Infections". Frontiers in Microbiology. 12: 708550. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.708550. ISSN 1664-302X. PMC 8770865. PMID 35069461.
  23. ^ "Novogene enhances its long-read sequencing capacity with the addition of eight PacBio Sequel IIe systems". Novogene. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  24. ^ Hale, Conor. "PacBio unveils its first short-read DNA sequencer plus a long-read system upgrade". Fierce Biotech. Retrieved Mar 7, 2023.
  25. ^ Ragoussis, Jiannis; Pezeshkian, Nairi; Gilbert, Lucy (April 4, 2023). "Abstract 6522: Improved detection of low frequency mutations in ovarian and endometrial cancers by utilizing a highly accurate sequencing platform". Cancer Research. 83 (7_Supplement): 6522. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2023-6522. ISSN 0008-5472. S2CID 257970846.
  26. ^ "UK launches whole-genome sequencing pilot for babies". Nature Biotechnology. 41 (1): 4. January 1, 2023. doi:10.1038/s41587-022-01644-0. ISSN 1546-1696. PMID 36653501. S2CID 255970763.
  27. ^ Levene, M. J.; Korlach, J.; Turner, S. W.; Foquet, M.; Craighead, H. G.; Webb, W. W. (January 31, 2003). "Zero-Mode Waveguides for Single-Molecule Analysis at High Concentrations". Science. 299 (5607): 682–686. Bibcode:2003Sci...299..682L. doi:10.1126/science.1079700. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 12560545. S2CID 6060239.
  28. ^ Hale, Conor. "PacBio unveils its first short-read DNA sequencer plus a long-read system upgrade". Fierce Biotech. Retrieved Mar 7, 2023.
  29. ^ LeMieux, Julianna (December 1, 2022). "PacBio Seeks to Maroon the Competition in the Crowded Sequencing Space". GEN Biotechnology. 1 (6): 476–478. doi:10.1089/genbio.2022.29066.jle. ISSN 2768-1572. S2CID 255024364. Retrieved Mar 8, 2023.
  30. ^ Pacific Biosciences (Feb 23, 2015) "Analysis"[self-published source]
  31. ^ "New Products: PacBio's SMRT Analysis 1.4". GenomeWeb. January 29, 2013.
  32. ^ "Finishing Genomes with HGAP". May 6, 2013.
  33. ^ Chin, Chen-Shan; Alexander, David H.; Marks, Patrick; Klammer, Aaron A.; Drake, James; Heiner, Cheryl; Clum, Alicia; Copeland, Alex; Huddleston, John; Eichler, Evan E.; Turner, Stephen W.; Korlach, Jonas (June 5, 2013). "Nonhybrid, finished microbial genome assemblies from long-read SMRT sequencing data". Nature Methods. 10 (6): 563–569. doi:10.1038/nmeth.2474. PMID 23644548. S2CID 205421576.