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?’
The Archon X Prize for Genomics offers a $10 million prize to to the first team that can sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less at a total cost of $10,000, with strict criteria for accuracy and completeness. However, given that there aren’t currently any gold standard genomes that could be used to confirm that a team has met the Prize’s requirements, and the complexity of judging the winner is far greater than for any previous award from the X Prize Foundation. To help refine the validation process, the Prize Foundation has just announced a collaboration with Nature to crowd-source ideas, which can be submitted via comments on the current plan over at Nature Precedings. If you’re interested in helping to define the state of the art in human genome construction, head over and have your say. [DM]
This week MIT’s Technology Review released this year’s TR50, a list of the 50 most innovative companies. Biomedical companies make a good showing, with 8 in total. Excitingly, three of these companies have been chosen for innovations in DNA sequencing technology; Complete Genomics, for developing the service approach to sequencing human genomes, Life Technologies for aquiring the new Ion Torrent machine, and Pacific Biosciences for their single-molecule sequencing machines. [LJ]
Over at Forbes, Matthew Herper pointed out the announcement of an exciting new targeted drug for cystic fibrosis that showed greater than expected results in clinical trials, as well as the announcement by Life Technologies of an impending upgrade to their Ion Torrent sequencing platform (also comprehensively dissected by Keith Robison here and here). This all sounds like good news, but Herper warned in a separate post that the implications of recent developments in genomics and pharmaceuticals might be heading towards a chaotic impact:
Continue reading ‘Defining a complete genome, innovative sequencers, and the mess ahead for personalised medicine’
Nature ran an excellent story on the rise of genetic hobbyist-bloggers, featuring our own Joe Pickrell’s discovery of his Jewish heritage as well as the impressive efforts of bloggers Dienekes and David Wesolowski to explore human ancestry using publicly available large-scale genetic data, which finishes with a comparison by George Church between genomics blogging and the early days of social networks:
Church argues that better access to high-quality data could help this kind of informal bioinformatics to flourish, enabling computer-savvy people to make important contributions to genomics, just as they have with online businesses such as Facebook. “It didn’t take that much training to become a social-networking entrepreneur. You just had to be a good coder,” he says. With bioinformatics, “I think we’re in a similar position.”
DNA sequencing news this week was dominated by the commercial launch of the fancy new machine from Ion Torrent and the announcement of $1 million prizes for home-brew improvements to the work-flow, throughput and accuracy of the embryonic platform. Nick Loman cast a skeptical eye over the output from the Ion Torrent PR machine, and particularly the competition, asking “Is this helping democratise sequencing, or is it a cynical tactic to get cheap R&D?” At the other end of the cynicism-naivete spectrum, Harvard molecular biologist Gary Ruvkun pondered sending an Ion Torrent to Mars to sequence the (hypothetical) DNA sprinkled across its dusty terrain.
Continue reading ‘Friday Links’