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
“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
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
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
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 full press release and notes to editors, please click here.