18 February 2011

Creepy Ad

Ok, there's something about this ad (for Vetter Pharma in the most recent issue of BioPharm International) that creeps me out. It's either because she's smiling even though someone's about to jam a big needle in her arm or because she has sort of a “I'm going to rip your arm off if you poke me with that needle” kind of smile. Either way, I don't want Vetter to jab me with any needles. Or her to rip my arm off.

16 February 2011

AGBT's biggest loser was...


Seriously, the AGBT organizers appeared to be caught off guard by the popularity of tweeting/blogging about the various talks. Many thanks to the presenters who allowed tweeting and to the many attendees who took the time to tweet and blog about them. I found it enormously helpful as it allowed me to attend the meeting vicariously. I've listed some of the blog resources at the end (which also contain good info on the research talks).

The general consensus seems to be that the meeting was good but that there really wasn't anything groundbreaking this year. The commercial players either already announced their good news back in January, had nothing to say or weren't ready to say anything just yet.

The Established Players:

There really was nothing new for the meeting as they had already announced the program for achieving 600GB with HiSeq2000, the internal 1TB runs and the new MiSeq platform. Illumina was a fairly popular tweet/blog topic (second highest coverage) with most people either focusing on MiSeq, HiSeq's data output or Illumina's general market dominance. The only real negative that came up was the run failure rate at Harvard. Illumina had a moderate presence in the twitterverse, sending out an average # of tweets to attendees.

Like Illumina, they didn't really have anything new to say about their SOLiD platform. They were, however, the king of the tweets, sending out more than all of the other sequencing vendors combined. The attendees weren't quite so vocal. Combining tweets for both SOLiD and Ion Torrent (see below), they had just the third highest coverage. As for news, it seems that Life is really starting to position SOLiD as system of choice for the cancer genome market.

Bucking the trend, Complete Genomics did save some big news for the meeting. They have created a public database containing 40 complete genomes with the promise of 20 more in March. The company tweeted an average amount and received some back (#4), most of which was excitement around the public dataset.

Hello? Does anyone have anything to say about 454? <crickets>. Nothing directly from the company and just a handful of tweets from the attendees. Maybe next year?

The Hopefuls:

Life didn't really have any announcements about Ion Torrent, but people were eager to see the data in the presentations. They seemed pleased with the low GC bias but perhaps a little disappointed with the error rates.

The company didn't send out any tweets, but they win the prize for the greatest interest from the twitterverse – almost double the #2 tweet getter. However, a big chunk of that was about the movie they showed (which some described as too simplistic for the AGBT audience while others described it as a giant 30 min ad for PacBio).

ONP tweeted an average amount, but they didn't have any big announcements. There wasn't too much tweeting about them since no one has their hands on this instrument yet, but those who did comment seemed quite positive about their GridION system and were eager to see some real data.

Nothing from the company, but a few people out there were eager to see how this system will perform.

About the same – nothing much out there yet, but some are waiting.

The Head Scratcher:

Agilent was the “Gold” sponsor (just below Life, which nabbed “Platinum”) - something that costs big bucks (around $100k, I think). However, at least in the twitterverse and the blogosphere, they were just about a non-entity. There were no official tweets from the company and their only announcement was about their new RNA target enrichment kit. A nice addition to the market, but I'm not sure if that news was worthy of the gold sponsorship purchase.

AGBT Summaries (a big thanks to you all!):

Keith Robison at Omics! Omics!
Prithwish at Omically Speaking (part 1, part 2)
Kevin Davies of BioIT World at NGSLeaders
J Ireland at 5AM

10 February 2011

A Torrent of Improvements

The news from AGBT this year seemed a little tame (more on that in a future post), but there was one statement that really caught my eye. Ion Torrent said that researchers can expect a 10x improvement in sequencing output from the PGM every 6 months through the release of new chips (like the recent update from the 314 to the 316 chip). That's a fairly extraordinary claim. If true, it means that by next year's AGBT meeting their machine will be producing 10GB per run and that by AGBT 2013 they'll be producing 1TB per run (Illumina's current internal output on the most juiced up HiSeq2000).

Jay Flatley recently recounted Illumina's tremendous pace, going from 1GB per run to over 1TB per run in 4 years. If Ion Torrent is able to deliver on their claim, they would make up the same ground in just 18 months. It will be interesting to see if they can continue improving the PGM at this pace for an extended period of time.

01 February 2011

Lifting the Nano Curtain

Late last week Oxford Nanopore, a next gen sequencing company which has been in stealth mode for the past couple of years, gave us a little peek at what they've been working on.  As a nanopore-based technology, we already knew it would probably have long reads and minimal reagent requirements. What's really interesting is the form factor of the instruments. Not only are they inexpensive (prices haven't been stated, but the consensus seems to be around $50k), but they're really small and they can be combined into sequencing "networks". Daniel MacArthur, Luke Jostins and Kevin Davies have all written up nice summaries on the technology and how they think it will be used.

In addition to previewing what looks like some pretty cool (and remarkably polished) technology, they're revealing some nice marketing moves as well. First, they've published four very slick videos describing their technology (see below). Second, they've timed their announcement very well as it was just a few days ahead of AGBT, the "biggest" (well, most significant, anyway) sequencing technology conference. Despite not being a sponsor of the meeting, they're sure to generate a lot of buzz. That's a great way to stretch a marketing budget.

Hopefully we'll hear more after AGBT starts rolling this week.

The GridION system: part 1 from Oxford Nanopore on Vimeo.

The GridION system: Part 2, advanced workflows from Oxford Nanopore on Vimeo.

Nanopore sequencing from Oxford Nanopore on Vimeo.

Exonuclease sequencing from Oxford Nanopore on Vimeo.