As Sequencing Techs Mature, Scientists Look to Sample Prep for Improvements

We come to AGBT year after year because it is the place for new advances in DNA sequencing. But this year we’re hearing more and more about a cause that has special importance to us: sample prep.

In the first few talks of the conference, speakers presenting on single-cell studies and on precision cancer diagnostics both cited sample prep as a major challenge for reaching their experimental goals. With single cells, for example, the Broad Institute’s Aviv Regev noted that deeper sequencing is less important than high-quality sample prep to get great data. In cancer research, getting patient biopsy samples with enough quality DNA is a widely recognized problem that many scientists and surgeons are working to address.

That theme continued on the second day of the conference, with many calls from the podium for more robust sample preparation methods for everything from low-input approaches to preserving long fragments of undamaged DNA. We also noticed a growing trend among conference talks for studies that integrate many layers of information — DNA sequence, RNA-seq, epigenetics, ChIP-seq, and so forth. Scientists are eager to combine all of this data to make deeper insights into biological mechanisms, but using so many different approaches puts even more pressure on the sample prep process to be reproducible and precise across all workflows.

That’s the mandate of our company, so this focus on sample prep is music to our ears. We’ve had fun at AGBT showing off our new SageELF and offering sneak peeks of other products in the works, all of which share the same goal: increasing the quality and decreasing the variability in the preparative process. If you haven’t stopped by yet, you can find us in lanai #281.

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