For companies seeking to make their mark in the ultra-competitive next-generation sequencing (NGS) market, new technology and lower prices may no longer be enough.
As the size of the NGS sequencing market grows, and an increasing number of NGS purchasers evaluate an expanding array of providers and technologies (see William Blair’s Next-Generation Sequencing Survey), NGS companies are beginning to look beyond price points and product specs in an attempt to stand out.
Ion Torrent on the Offensive. Consider Ion Torrent, an NGS newcomer recently acquired by Life Technologies, which launched its first product (the Personal Genome Machine) a scant four months ago. Since then, Ion Torrent has announced improvements to the PGM’s output, read length and sample prep (coverage from Matthew Herper of Forbes here and here).
As it seeks to distinguish the PGM from its competitors’ products, particularly Illumina’s offerings (see J.P. Morgan’s Next Gen Sequencing Survey), Ion Torrent has added a new dimension to its PGM campaign. Ion Torrent recently launched several creative online advertisements, with its side-by-side comparison of the PGM and Illumina’s MiSeq system—modeled after Apple’s popular “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” campaign—raising the most eyebrows.
Continue reading ‘Next-Gen Sequencing Heading to Madison Avenue?’
My 23andMe data revealed a number of potentially worrying results: compared to what I was expecting, I turned out to be a hotbed of mild genetic disease. I visited my GP to discuss the results with him; he spent a short while staring at the reports, and then referred me to a clinical geneticist. I haven’t had the appointment at the time of writing this, so I will give a full report of the experience after I’ve had time to digest it. I’m not going into details about all this now, because I didn’t really want to open this new chapter of the Genomes Unzipped book talking about my potential or actual diseases – so instead, I’m going to talk about something entirely unrelated to disease, and related to my family, and our suspected histories.
I have worked on Y chromosome sequencing pretty extensively in the past, and the first thing I checked when I received my 23andMe data was my Y haplogroup. The Y chromosome is passed down exclusively from father to son, and thus provides information about one “edge” of my family tree (my father, my father’s father, my father’s father’s father, and so on). My haplogroup is N1, which is a predominantly Asian haplogroup, and is very rare in the UK. This isn’t actually a very strange result, though; my father’s father is Latvian, and the N1 haplogroup is not rare in the Baltic regions. In fact, the subgroup, N1c1, is more common in parts of Eastern Europe than it is in Asia.
Continue reading ‘A new family history’
Last year, at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Hawaii, Nick Eriksson gave a talk on 23andWe, the scientific arm of 23andMe. He reported a series of genetic association studies that used their customer base as a pool of active participants, by asking them to fill out questionnaires, and correlating their answers with their genotypes. They reported a few novel genes that were associated with semi-amusing/semi-serious traits, including a variant associated with curly hair, and the olfactory receptor variant that predicts whether or not you can smell asparagus in your own urine; these associations have since been published in PLoS Genetics.
This is all very interesting, but that’s not really what I want to talk about here. What I do want to talk about is the effect that knowledge of these results can have on the users of personal genomics, and how this could feed back into genetics research. Stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this.
Continue reading ‘Personal genomics and genetic feedback loops’