Solexa Announces the Appointment of John West as New CEO

Aug 27, 2004, 01:00 ET from Solexa

    CAMBRIDGE, England, and MENLO PARK, California, August 27 /PRNewswire/ --
 Solexa Ltd., today announced the appointment of John West as its new CEO.
 Solexa is developing single molecule arrays, a form of nanotechnology
 expected to enable the independent analysis of up to a billion individual DNA
 molecules in parallel. This technology is expected to transform genetics
 research and ultimately, molecular diagnostics.
     Mr. West will be responsible for leading the Company through product
 launch and subsequent corporate growth. He succeeds Nick McCooke, who has led
 Solexa through a very successful period of early development.
     Commenting on his initial experience at Solexa, Mr West said: "On joining
 Solexa, I have been impressed with how far it has progressed toward practical
 implementation. I have seen numerous advanced technologies proposed for DNA
 analysis since the early 1980's and almost none have reached the market.
 Solexa, on the other hand, has quietly and carefully worked on the core
 chemistry and enzymology it needs and has made remarkable progress. Its
 recent insightful acquisition of DNA cluster technology has now closed the
 signal-to-noise gap it faced, and should enable shipments in 2005.
     "While other companies propose stretching the microtiter plate concept to
 the limit with expensive microfluidic designs, Solexa has moved directly to
 the molecular level. This promises thousand fold higher density than the
 finest microfluidic chambers, with none of the complexity."
     Mr West joined Solexa from Applied Biosystems, Inc. (AB) where he was
 Vice President of DNA Platforms. This included responsibility for the
 company's instrument and reagent products for DNA sequencing, gene
 expression, genotyping, PCR and DNA synthesis. His group developed and
 launched the instruments that now populate virtually all genome sequencing
 centers worldwide. He also had business responsibility for AB's first gene
 expression array system, for its real-time PCR instruments, and for its
 microfluidic PCR products.
     During his 22 years in the industry, Mr. West has held senior positions,
 including President of Princeton Instruments, Inc., President and Founder of
 BioAutomation, Inc. and Marketing Director for Microfluidics at Microcosm
 Technologies, Inc. During Mr. West's term at Princeton Instruments, the
 company introduced the first low light imaging system for single molecule
 fluorescence - and Solexa, at that time a startup, bought one of the first
 units. Mr. West holds BS and MS degrees in engineering from MIT and an MBA in
 Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
     Welcoming Mr West to the Company and the Board, Dr Tim Rink, Solexa's
 Chairman said: "John brings a wealth of skills and experience that will be
 vital to Solexa as it commercialises its advanced genetic analysis
 technology. He brings both large company organisation and process experience
 and smaller company entrepreneurial leadership background. He has built
 market-leading businesses with dramatic revenue growth in market and
 technology areas very relevant to Solexa's aims.
     "On behalf of the board and the investors I would also like to thank Nick
 McCooke for his able stewardship and hard work that has brought Solexa so
 far, so quickly."
     Mr McCooke will remain with the Company for an interim period in order to
 effect a smooth transition.
     About Solexa
     Solexa's ultimate goal is to develop systems capable of individual human
 genome analysis within the financial constraints of the medical diagnostic
 industry. This would transform genetic diagnostics from target-specific
 confirmatory tests (niche products) into ubiquitous hypothesis-free baseline
 medical data. The ability to read the whole genome sequence and/or gene
 expression profiles of individuals, quickly and economically, will also be a
 fundamental tool in the development of the biological and medical sciences in
 the 21st century.
     Solexa is a private company developing instrument and reagent systems
 based on single molecule array technology. In this technology, arrays are
 formed by depositing a dense lawn of molecules on a surface similar to a
 microscope slide. The individual molecules are then analysed in place, with
 the spatial resolution of the array determined by the size of the molecules
 rather than by a photolithographically defined microfluidic cell or
 hybridisation pixel. This advantage is extended by use of a novel chemistry
 that builds up data, base-by-base, at each molecule. Compared with
 conventional arrays, that provide a single reading at each location, this
 gives single molecule arrays a third dimension, greatly expanding the amount
 of data generated per array. With this technology, single molecule arrays are
 expected to provide data densities approximately a thousand fold higher than
 those of arrays based on either hybridisation or micro-PCR wells.
     Detection of single molecules is extremely challenging technologically.
 While Solexa has made significant progress towards pure single molecule
 arrays as its ultimate goal, it has acquired cluster technology - in which
 PCR is used to amplify individual molecules - to let it reach market much
 more quickly. Solexa is the only company with access to both pure single
 molecule and amplified single molecule array platform technologies. This
 establishes a roadmap for successful early product launch with a sustained
 price / performance advantage into the future.
     With the potential to sequence as many as a billion separate DNA
 molecules in parallel, Solexa's technology is expected to allow a single
 instrument to re-sequence a complete human genome at ten fold coverage in ten
 days. With this throughput, the technology can also potentially support
 analysis of over a thousand whole-genome gene expression profiles in parallel
 on a single instrument. This throughput, tremendously valuable in its own
 right, also provides an unprecedented cost advantage in both areas of genetic
     Since Solexa arrays are based on analysis of individual molecules, the
 amount of material needed for each analysis is vanishingly small. This may
 enable genome-scale analysis from as little as a few cells. This sensitivity
 level in itself is expected to enable new experiments, with cancer and stem
 cell samples in particular.
     Solexa was spun out of Cambridge University in 1998 and now employs a
 broadly international staff of 47, mostly PhD scientists. To date, it has
 raised $42 million in venture capital. By combining first rate internal
 development with insightful external acquisition, Solexa has built the
 leading intellectual property estate in the field of single molecule array
 technology. Initial revenues are expected in 2005.
     Further information can be found at