Here's a killer technological challenge for anyone: design a scheme to detect vanishingly small concentrations of a valuable analyte in a biological fluid. The assay must require zero pipetting, work in the field at ambient temperature, generate results quickly, contain positive and negative controls, be usefully precise and accurate, and be usable by personnel with no formal technical training. Oh, and be dirt cheap as well.
Monday, March 25, 2019
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Many writers have attempted to divide Next Generation Sequencing into Second Generation Sequencing and Third Generation Sequencing. Personally, I think it isn't helpful and just confuses matters. I'm not the biggest fan of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to start with, as like "post-modern architecture" (or heck, "modern architecture") it isn't future-proofed. Not that I wouldn't take a job with NGS in the title, but still not a favorite. High Throughput Sequencing feels a little better, but again doesn't leave room for distinguishing growth -- and HTS as an abbreviation is already going to confuse anyone in Biopharma who thinks about High Throughput Screening. Massively Parallel Sequencing sort of works, but my late father had a real pedantic objection to using "massive" for anything that lacked mass, and while I don't subscribe to that view such uses just don't sit well with me. Worse, as I'll explain, trying to divide sequencer technologies into Second and Third generations creates more heat and smoke than light. On a number of Twitter threads I've tried to launch my own terminology, but probably haven't been terribly consistent. So here is an attempt at that.
Thursday, February 07, 2019
An idea for a little exploration occurred to me back at Infinity -- that is 7.5 years ago -- that I've never tried out. But I never got around to it. I had some downtime recently to play around so I finally executed the experiment -- alas, it turns out not to be very interesting. Still, a negative result is a negative result.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
For as long as I can remember, Covaris has been the standard in DNA shearing for high throughput short read sequencing. Their benchtop units had their quirks -- custom tubes being the foremost -- but they were what everyone else compared to. In 2013 when the American Society for Human Genetics was in town, the PacBio folks did me a great favor and loaned me an exhibit hall pass. Multiple companies were offering DNA shearing instruments -- and every one compared themselves against Covaris. Now they have a new offering, moving the instrument onto a liquid handling robot deck so that it is available for high-throughput workflows. Covaris invited me down to their Woburn, Massachusetts facility to get a look at the instrument before its formal launch at the SLAS conference
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Here's a dangerous statement for me: I actually enjoyed reading some patents recently. Now, before you get any ideas in your head about suggesting more patents for me to read, let me be clear that these were unusual patents -- they're written to be read! -- and were read under strict conditions. The patents in question are from Genapsys -- found via my good friend Justia.
Monday, January 28, 2019
Derek Lowe summarized a really cool paper back in October. I've been meaning to grab a copy, but discovered recently that the MIT library no longer has an easy way for outsiders to slip in an use their subscriptions. So I'm working off his summary, but since this is mostly an excuse for flights of genetic fantasy actually reading the paper would probably just hinder me!
Friday, January 25, 2019
As promised in the last post, I'm segregating out Oxford Nanopore. Admittedly I tend to cover them relatively closely -- though I never seem to quite finish writing up their conferences -- but at the moment ONT is the only major player in the U.S. research sequencing market not being run out of (or about to be run out of) Illumina HQ. And I'll be very to the point: ONT has a lot of balls in the air and irons in the fire, but from my point-of-view what matters most is rapid and regular progress on the accuracy front.