We were thrilled to escape the apocalyptic weather of the northeast for a few days to attend the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in San Francisco. It’s one of our favorite meetings, and with nearly 7,000 scientists registered, this year’s event is living up to its reputation as one of the most important conferences in the genomics field.
Sequencing vendors — and vendors-to-be — have really stolen the spotlight at ASHG this week. As usual, there’s plenty of buzz around Illumina, which just announced the winners of a MiSeq grant program. Awardees from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, La Trobe University, and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute will receive the MiSeq instrument, reagent kits, analysis software, and more. As an exhibitor at several of the recent Illumina user group meetings, we can certainly attest to the community’s high interest in MiSeq and other Illumina sequencing platforms.
Life Technologies has been getting lots of attention here at ASHG as well. With its Ion Proton in labs and new applications available, such as the just-announced AmpliSeq Community Panels for the Ion platform, people are eager to learn more about this technology. When we attended Ion World in September, it was great to see so much diversity in how the tool is being used by scientists. It’s a really interesting platform and we look forward to hearing what else Life Tech has in store.
Of course, the big news at ASHG comes from a company that doesn’t yet have a sequencer on the market: Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The UK-based vendor has a booth across the exhibit hall from ours in which they’ve unveiled their nanopore-based GridION and MinION sequencers. Still no word on when the company will be taking orders, but it sounds like Oxford will be working with early access customers soon; the company has said it will begin commercialization by the end of this year. As expected, people have been flocking to the Oxford booth to get a glimpse of the new tech.
As a participant in the next-gen sequencing field, we’re pleased that so much progress is happening on many different fronts. Our customers currently using the Pippin platform for Illumina and Ion Torrent sequencing technologies are continually demonstrating new applications enabled by precise size selection, including massively parallel genotyping, splice variant detection, microRNA analysis, and more.
At this conference, what’s really resonating for us is the message we’ve been hearing a lot from customers lately: with sequencing technology changing so fast, they need sample prep solutions that not only work now, but also will work with sequencers launching in the future too. Pippin users frequently tell us that the flexibility of our platform allows them to tune it to a number of different sequencer specifications, so it will be just as useful with long-insert sequencing like Oxford Nanopore’s as it is today with MiSeq and Ion. We can’t do anything about how rapidly technologies are changing, but we’re glad that we can keep one piece of the puzzle constant.