Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Pacific Biosciences announced today that they are slurping up short read sequencer startup Omniome for around $800M. Omniome has been developing an interesting clonal read technology. On the conflict-of-interest side, many years ago (and I think an entire management team different) Omniome treated myself and my family to a weekend in San Diego (it was my son's birthday weekend) so I could look at their technology back then -- my NDA has expired but so has most of my memory of what I saw at that meeting! Also the periodic reminder that PacBio Christian Henry sits on the board of my employer, though we haven't met. Simon Barnett of ARK Investments (which is a major holder of PacBio stock) has a very nice explainer on the Omniome Sequencing-By-Binding (SBB) chemistry and his bullish perspective on the acquisition and there is a proof-of-concept publication of the technology. I'll briefly explain the tech and then outline my somewhat more bearish view. It's also interesting to note that the FTC's actions on Illumina-PacBio and Illumina-Grail have analysts jumpy about this acquisition attempt.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Some sort of summary of London Calling in this space is grossly overdue after getting caught by multiple work firedrills and then several recursive rounds of procrastination. I'm not going to attempt to cover all the company announcements. I'm going to focus on a cluster of announcements that show a long range vision of inexpensive sequencing consisting of very accurate, very long reads. Well, a cluster of visions -- some parts can be mixed and matched and others cannot. This should be a prospect to grab the attention of any current or aspiring ONT competitors. Now before I'm accused of being a gullible shill for Oxford, I want to make it clear I think that running the table on these will be technically difficult and is many years in the future. But even if Oxford manages some of these but not all, they would substantially upgrade their platform.
Wednesday, June 02, 2021
I proposed last year that there should be a regular racing event for human genomics. The only real competitor in is this interesting race seems to be Steven Kingsmore's group at Rady Children's Hospital. I was sent an embargoed press release from Illumina about a new record by that group, which clocks in at 13.5 hours from patient sample to clinical report. A New England Journal of Medicine paper (hence the embargo, ending just before I post this) reports on the advance but wasn't in the packet I received.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Yesterday was Matt Meselson's 91st birthday. I have only met him a few times and he wouldn't know me from Adam, but he is a particularly interesting individual I've had the good fortune to converse with. I'm putting out a plea now for a skilled biographer to write his life, because it certainly has been an interesting and impactful one, with scientific work stretching from the early beginnings of molecular genetics to a preprint just recently posted on BioRxiv.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
The title really says it -- London Calling has actually already begun and here I am pretending to write a "before the conference" piece. Of course, since everything is virtual again this year I can actually do this since I haven't watched anything yet nor have seen any tweets -- and the big technology announcement section isn't for a few hours so I have loads of time to write! Sadly, nor have I gone and looked at what I've written before. Nor have I defended these two days very well - my schedule is cluttered with meetings and appointments. So I haven't prepared in any way, shape or form -- but here goes some thoughts.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
The GISAID database has been the workhorse for storing and distributing SARS-CoV-2 sequences during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently passed one million entries. There was some Twitter chatter wondering about the hardware breakdown for this, as it isn't really easy to get out of GISAID. I had done a somewhat arduous partial take at this for my VIB talk last month, but in the meantime GISAID had granted me some additional access to metadata which I've been too busy to tackle. But knowing some others were curious, time to dive back in.
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
More spatial profiling news coming in from AGBT -- Harvard spin-out VizGen is launching in the U.S. an instrument implementing MERFISH technology. This sub-$300K instrument will initially enable panels of up to 500 genes to be profiled, with plans to expand that capacity to 1000. Users either pick from a menu of pre-designed panels or select genes using a Gene Panel Design Tool and VizGen would proceed to manufacturing the panel in around two weeks. VizGen CEO Terry Lo and Senior Director of Marketing Brittany Auclair were kind enough to give me a preview last Friday.