Helicos BioSciences Corporation (NASDAQ: HLCS) today announced a publication demonstrating the detection and quantification of novel small RNA molecules using Helicos’ single-molecule sequencing technology. These data confirm a long-held, unproven hypothesis that mammalian cells are capable of synthesizing RNA by copying RNA molecules directly. The findings are presented in a paper, entitled “New class of gene-termini-associated human RNAs suggests a novel RNA copying mechanism,” by Kapranov, et al, available today in Nature.

“For the first time, we have evidence to support the hypothesis that human cells have the widespread ability to copy RNA as well as DNA,” said Bino John, Ph.D., assistant professor of computational biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “These findings emphasize the complexity of human RNA populations and suggest the important role for single molecule-sequencing for accurate and comprehensive genetic profiling.”

Today’s Nature publication presents joint research findings, utilizing Helicos’ proprietary true Single Molecule Sequencing (tSMS™) technology to profile small RNAs from human cells and tissues. The study uncovered several new classes of RNAs that are produced by uncharacterized RNA copying mechanisms. Such RNA copying mechanisms have been well documented in plants and simple organisms, but this work provides the first supporting evidence for such a mechanism in human cells.

“This class of non-coding RNA molecules has been historically overlooked because available sequencing platforms are often unable to provide accurate detection and quantification,” commented Dr. Patrice Milos, Chief Scientific Officer at Helicos. “This study supports our belief that Helicos’ tSMS technology provides the platform capability to identify and quantitate these RNAs and reinforces the potential clinical advantages of our single molecule-sequencing platform.”

The Nature publication (Vol. 466, No. 7306) was co-authored by Drs. Bino John, A. Paula Monaghan and Sang Woo Kim, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Dr. Sylvain Foissac from Integromics, Inc.; Drs. Stylianos Antonarakis and Christelle Borel of the University of Geneva Medical School and Drs. Philipp Kapranov, Doron Lipson, Fatih Ozsolak, Chris Hart, Steve Roels and Patrice Milos of Helicos BioSciences Corporation.