In the mid-1990s, Drs Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman, faculty members in the Chemistry Department at Cambridge University, began to develop a novel approach that was to become the basis of massively parallel DNA sequencing. Solexa’s technology later overcame the cost and throughput bottlenecks in the production and application of individual genetic variation data.
We were intrigued by the potential of this technology and seeded Solexa in September 1998, followed by further investments in 1999 and 2000. After helping to recruit the management team and the board, including the Chairman, we identified the US publicly traded company, Lynx Therapeutics, as a potential reverse merger candidate. In March 2005, Solexa obtained a Nasdaq SmallCap listing and went on to raise further funding that enabled the company to develop its prototype into a commercial sequencing instrument. Solexa’s first sequencer, the Genome Analyzer, was launched in 2006 with the power to sequence 1 gigabase of data in a single run.
In January 2007, Illumina acquired Solexa for $600m in stock. Since then, Illumina has used the technology as the foundation of its sequencing instruments, which can now generate over 1 terabase of data per run. This powerful increase in the ability to generate sequencing data has significant applications in treating disease.