These are the sorts of tools that change things

dna sequencer by Beige Alert

New players in sequencing debut at AGBT
[Via Genetic Future]

The main theme of this year’s Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting should come as no surprise to regular readers: sequencing. Generating as many bases of DNA sequence as quickly, cheaply and accurately as possible is the goal of the moment, and the number of companies jostling to achieve that goal is growing rapidly.

The meeting saw impressive performances from established players in the field, especially Illumina: their new HiSeq 2000 instrument seems to have dug in as the platform of choice for generating vast amounts of high-quality short-read data. Life Technologies seem to be slowly abandoning the research genomics market (already dominated by Illumina) with their SOLiD platform, focusing instead on capturing the clinical sequencing market; they showed some impressive accuracy improvements for their technology.

As I mentioned in my previous post, PacBio largely underwhelmed the audience with their theatrical unveiling of a massive box with quite limited applications, although we’ll have to wait and see how much its specifications improve over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, Complete Genomics gave an understated but seriously impressive series of presentations on their human genome sequencing service; I’ll have more on them in a day or two.

Anyway, in this post I want to focus on the two brand new platforms announced in the emerging technologies session on the last day of the conference: the newcomer Ion Torrent, and Life Technologies’ futuristic quantum dot technology.


One machine may be cheap enough to do quality control tests on samples before subjecting them to very high-throughput DNA sequencing devices while the other holds the promise of DNA reads on single molecules that extend for the whole molecule – a single read on a single molecule.

We are approaching the era where these can really be clinical lab technologies rather than only research lab tools. That could have a huge affect on how we interact with the medical profession.

[Listening to: Deacon Blues from the album “Citizen Steely Dan 1972 – 1980 disc 4” by Steely Dan]