Thursday, February 29, 2024

Post-AGBT: Sequencing Hardware Roundup

Some updates on the sequencing instrument vendors, save Ultima Genomics and Element Biosciences which I've covered already.

Post-AGBT: Element AVITI Sequencing Updates

Element has been very busy over the past year and in the Silver Sponsor presentation covered updates since last AGBT as well as a number of completely new items.  I covered their Teton approach to multiomic analysis of cell culture in the last piece; in this one I'll cover their sequencing platform evolution.  Element was kind enough to loan me key members of their technical braintrust for an hour in the week before AGBT, which sadly I repaid by allowing their lunch to be scheduled over.  Thankfully, they do have a recording available!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Post-AGBT: Both Element & Singular Want Spatial to Go With The Flow(cells)

Element Biosciences and Singular Genomics have often appeared to be on roughly parallel trajectories, though with key differences.  Both companies launched sequencing instruments with NextSeq 2000-like specifications and largely aimed at the academic core lab and small biotech company market.  At AGBT, both announced upgrades to their sequencing instruments that allow the instrument to perform spatial omics while still functioning as a sequencer.  But there are key differences in their approach and what we know about each company and their degree of success so far in the sequencer market.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

AGBT Follow-up: Ultima Genomics UG100, Volta Labs Callisto, N6Tec iconPCR

A confusion of ideas for AGBT follow-up have collided with the inevitable post-AGBT return-to-ordinary-life requirements.  To try to avoid a huge project that never gets completed, I'm breaking these up into multiple pieces.  First off, a look at reaction to the three big pieces I wrote before the conference or early during the conference: Ultima Genomics, Volta Labs Callisto and N6Tec iconPCR.  My comments are based on further thoughts on my part, discussions with other AGBT attendees and feedback I've gotten via social media, blog comments and emails/DMs.  Please keep it coming!  One of the great values of writing this is getting feedback - it illuminates questions I haven't considered and highlights gaps in my thinking. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

VoltaLabs Launches Callisto for DNA Extraction & Library Prep

Here at AGBT, VoltaLabs has unveiled their 24-sample DNA extraction and NGS library prep Callisto instrument, which is particularly suited for long read applications but is also suited for short read work. Volta has matured liquid handling automation to a novel open top electrowetting technology. Priced at $125K and planning to ship in the second quarter, Callisto is designed as a walk-away solution requiring no human interaction during a run. Personally, not only do I love the a new medium-throughput instrument for HMW DNA extraction and manipulation, but I also can at least pretend I helped steer the company In that directions

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

iconPCR: Super-Flexible qPCR Thermocycler Oft Dreamed, Now Delivered

Has there ever been a product you’ve just wanted to have, but it doesn’t exist? That keeps popping up in discussions - “if only we had X this project would go so much faster!”. Well, N6 Tec’s automation-friendly $99K i96 well iconPCR thermocycler is that to me. Launching at AGBT, it’s the gadget I’ve wanted repeatedly at Codon Devices, Warp Drive Bio and now Ginkgo Bioworks. It won’t solve all your PCR challenges, but it certainly gives new options to customize PCR like never before. And for many NGS labs, it offers major streamlining of PCR-based library construction protocols while also delivering superior data. How? By being a thermocycler where every well can run its own thermal profile and each well can go dormant once a desired level of amplification is achieved 

Monday, February 05, 2024

Want to Build A Sequencer? Opens Up Their Plans

Just as the AGBT hype cycle was firing up (with me contributing multiple sparks), serial entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg's latest sequencing startup fully de-stealthed their technology this weekend, going so far as to release open source plans to build an instrument prototype.  is aiming to build a Keurig-sized device to retail for $100, with sequencing runs in the $20 range.  To accomplish this, they're attempting a novel twist on sequencing-by-synthesis.  It's an unconventional strategy by someone who has succeeded twice before in DNA sequencing (454 and Ion Torrent) and has multiple other companies going (if I've counted correctly)  - QuantumSI in protein sequencing (a future topic for this space, I promise!), ButterflyNetworks with inexpensive, compact diagnostics ultrasound and Hyperfine with inexpensive, compact MRI diagnostic devices.  Then I went to the 4Catalyzer site - Rothberg's incubator - and discovered a bunch of companies I hadn't heard of or had forgotten about -- Protein Evolution in synthetic biology for plastics production, Detect for home-based diagnostics instruments, AI Therapeutics in the rare disease space and Liminal with what looks like consumer brain scanning.  That's quite a series of companies!   But the one closest to my heart (sorry QuantumSI :-) is, and their announcements have many interesting facets which I'll dive into.

[2024-02-06 01:41 - 'used"--> iSeq fix -- stupid autocorrect!]

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Ultima Launches

As part of the run-up to Gold sponsorship at AGBT, Ultima Genomics held a multi-day event in early December, with tours of the headquarters facility and factory floor in the Bay Area and a day at a beautiful Wine Country resort. The resort session included talks from the company, early access collaborators and a pair of big name early backers, with a few hundred current customers and many contemplating the leap.  So confident was the company in their product, they even invited a blogger to moderate one of the panel discussions!  The UG100 is now officially launched as a fully commercial product, with ambitions to replace panels, exomes and microarrays with whole genome sequences at $100 apiece.  All in an instrument package designed for continuous industrial-scale operation.  Please note that Ultima did review this piece to ensure I didn’t disclose information they did not wish public, but for the most part just gave me some very good proofreading support.  Photos are my own, except as noted.