Monday, March 30, 2020

One Gemini Celebrates Another

One of most truly useless pieces of information lodged in my brain is my zodiac sign; not once in my life have I had any interest in it.  But, given the available draws, it isn't too bad, as it's also the name of perhaps the most underappreciated engineering project of the second half of the 20th Century: Project Gemini

Saturday, March 21, 2020

1918 Flu Pandemic & Popular Culture: Take Two

My piece on the near amnesia in U.S. culture of the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic provoked a number of helpful comments, emails and conversations.  While I would stand behind the statement that it left a light footprint, there are a number of interesting cases, some of which I would never have found by conventional means.  Sometimes the collective wisdom of the internet is best for uncovering things, even when you're married to someone who catalogs books for a living.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

This Time ThermoFisher Catches QIAGEN

This past fall there was a rumor that QIAGEN was being pursued by an acquirer, with the initial tip being scientific conglomerate ThermoFisher but then other possibilities floated by.  QIAGEN was seen as ripe for such an action as their long-time CEO had stepped down.  QIAGEN made a very public announcement that they would continue independently under their new CEO, but that is no longer the case: ThermoFisher will acquire them, pending regulatory approvals, for something around 11.5B

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Post-AGBT: Miroculus

AGBT ended over a week ago and I've been procrastinating ever since in going through notes and writing up companies.  First few days I had the excuse of family time on beautiful Sanibel Island to the north, but since Monday other than obsessing about COVID-19 (and cancelling travel plans) I have no excuses.  First up, the microfluidic library prep company Miroculus, based on my notes from talking to their Chief Commercial Officer, Adam Lowe

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Why Didn't the 1919 Flu Leave A Bigger Cultural Imprint?

The still growing COVID-19 pandemic has reminded me of a question I've batted in my head a few times.  In 1918 and 1919 a global influenza pandemic killed on the order of 50 million people worldwide.  The scale of the jump in flu deaths in the U.S. can be seen in the below plot. That's more than the number of civilians and military personnel estimated to have been killed during World War I.  Yet despite this, it would seem that there has been very little impact on culture (at least the culture I am aware of).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

MGI Deconstructs the Sequencer

At some fancy restaurants one can get a "deconstructed dish".  As I understand it, as I don't frequent such restaurants, a deconstructed BLT would have the bread, bacon, lettuce and tomato each as their own individual item, but prepared in a novel way which highlights the strengths of each ingredient.  When I got a preview last night of Rade Drmanac's closing AGBT talk on achieving a $100 human genome (reagents price only), that was the vision I had: Drmanac and his team have created their Tx system by deconstructing the optical high throughput sequencing-by-synthesis instrument.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

CoolMPS Revealed

Having summarized MGI's announcement they are launching into the U.S. market this spring and started digging into the performance characteristics of MGI's instrument lineup, let us now turn to their BioRxiv pre-print on the CoolMPS chemistry, as it has many useful technical details.

MGI Dual Drop of CoolMPS News Ahead of AGBT

Friday morning I got excited because a preprint showed up at BioRxiv detailing the CoolMPS sequencing technology from MGI (aka BGI aka Complete Genomics).  First announced in Fall 2018, this approach sounded, well, cool.  Using fluorescently labeled antibodies specific to each reversible terminator seemed like a crazy pipe dream.  So getting a good look at it in a manuscript is an event!  But then Friday afternoon MGI had a second big pre-AGBT reveal: launch of their sequencing systems in the U.S. later this year. Below is a quick run-down of the sequencer announcement; the pre-print has many details I'm still parsing.