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Solexa’s sequencing leap
July 2006
by Lisa Expenschade  |  Email the author
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CARLSBAD, Calif.–Solexa Inc. announced a collaboration with Invitrogen on its Genome Analysis System that reduces the cost of rese­quencing human genomes to about $100,000, the company says. Invitrogen will supply reagents for the system, which is scheduled for broad rollout in fall 2006.
 
The system, says Omead Ostadan, Solexa's vice president of marketing, can generate "upward of a billion bases of data per run." Fully unattend­ed operation takes two to three days and "we're going to basically generate roughly 100 times the data of existing technologies at about one percent the cost" while remaining within existing quality standards, claims Ostadan. Solexa won't stop after reducing the cost of whole-genome sequencing to $100,000. Ostadan expects efficiencies over the next couple of years to shrink costs to $10,000 and, ultimately around $1,000, the benchmark cost companies in the business of genetic sequencing are racing towards.
 
More cost-effective sequencing, says Ostadan, will help drug discovery researchers gather "infor­mation on genetic differences between individuals, species, strains within species," understand reasons for mutations, and look at genes and candidate genes. One linkage region, says Ostadan, would cost about $400 for 125 million bases of data, a price "absurdly inexpensive and unheard of today." For researchers, new capabilities for conducting global methylation analysis and global small RNA analysis will be "felt practically in their day-to-day life," says Ostadan, with Solexa's system "the only viable alter­native" for some applications.
 
Lisa Filippone, Invitrogen's busi­ness area manager, says Invitrogen will provide the "majority of the reagents and its very key reagents, related to gene expression, DNA sample prep and small RNA sample prep, as well as the kits to create clusters for their platform." The open-ended agreement will continue "as long as it makes sense for both of us," says Filippone. Invitrogen has helped with custom formulations of reagents that differ from its off-the-shelf products, and Solexa plans to work closely with Invitrogen to leverage Invitrogen's expertise as one of the first OEM manufacturers to work on simi­lar products with companies like Affymetrix.
 
Solexa will manufacture in-house some proprietary reagents for the Genome Analysis System, says Ostadan. Each system cus­tomer will receive a 1G genome analyzer, says Ostadan, along with a cluster station to generate arrays, software, reagents, and other kits. Capital expense will total roughly $400,000; consumables, labor, and equipment amortization for run­ning a genome should cost around $100,000.
 
Ostadan credits the system's effi­ciency to its clonal single-molecule array technology, whose channels contain flow cells that generate dense data by capturing around 40 million fragments of DNA for amplification. The technology's possibilities have attracted cus­tomers, says Ostadan, to the extent that Solexa is "finding that now it's really an instance of customers pulling."
 
Customers, he says, are spread across a variety of application segment. Orders are being taken now for fall deliveries, and the phased rollout, says Ostadan, should "fundamentally ensure that as a commercial organization we have all the pieces in place to successfully deliver and support customers." Solexa's two loca­tions, in Cambridge, England, and Hayward, Calif., will both serve local customers.
 
For its part, Invitrogen sees the Solexa cooperation as a route for increasing its OEM business. "We see this as a strategic and excit­ing collaboration," says Filippone. "Solexa's platform looks very excit­ing [and] innovative to us. We're happy to be involved in the whole process of launching this sequenc­ing kit."
 
Code: E070602

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