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NGS Leaders Blog

Are We Really Talking About 4th-Generation?

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nanopore sequencing October 24, 2011  

 Kevin Davies :  Two weeks ago, I was making conversation with guests at the Burrill Personalized Medicine Meeting in San Francisco, when I casually asked Dietrich Stephan (co-founder of Navigenics) what he’d been up to lately.  

Stephan replied that he was involved in a couple of exciting new ventures. One was a still unnamed company just getting off the ground in the genome interpretation space. The other was a “4th-generation” nanopore sequencing start-up called Genia. He asked if I’d like to meet the CEO, Stefan Roever, and the next day, we were holding an interesting conversation in the hotel bar about Genia’s platform and prospects. The full story can be found over at bio-itworld.com today.

Roever says Genia can be considered a 4th-generation platform as follows:
“If Ion Torrent (electrical detection but requiring amplification) and Pacific Biosciences (single-molecule but optical) are 3rd-generation [sequencing technologies], then we're 4th-generation (single molecule, electrical detection). That's the holy grail, because it combines low-cost instruments with simple sample prep. So we'd like to think of it as last-gen!”

Roever has enjoyed considerable success in his entrepreneurial career, but has never taken on something like Genia. The touted hallmarks of the platform include high parallelization, a base/second read out, and control over DNA traversing the nanopores. These are still very early days, however, and it will likely be a year or two before we see much in the way of real sequence data, let alone a working prototype instrument.

That hasn’t stopped Life Technologies from placing a sizeable bet (Stephan says “double digit” millions of dollars) on Genia, as the sequencing giants jockey for the next big (or little) thing in next-gen sequencing (NGS).

Speaking at the Burrill meeting in early October, Life Technologies CEO Greg Lucier was asked about the status of single-molecule sequencing technologies such as the “StarLite” program (brought about by the union of acquired technologies from Quantum Dot and VisiGen), which was presented at a couple of high-profile conferences in 2010. Lucier replied that single-molecule sequencing was still very active in the company, but if used, it would likely be on a derivative of the Ion Torrent chip.

Whether Genia will be a major player in the 4th-generation of NGS platforms will be a fascinating question in the years ahead. Still, the arrival of a new player is to be welcomed. As far as new NGS platforms go, the field has been in a bit of a lull lately, waiting impatiently for the long-anticipated launch of new platforms from the likes of Oxford Nanopore and NABsys.

At CHI’s NGx conference in Providence, RI, last month, there was a pair of intriguing presentations from GnuBio and another nanopore technology, NobleGen. Another company, Intelligent Bio-Systems, has also been demoing its Max-Seq Genome Sequencer instrument (distributed by Azco Biotech).

 

OCT
10
I-Study: Genomic Interpretation - Who Will Pay?
During this webinar, members of the study review team present preliminary findings of the I-Study, conducted at the Harvard Medical School's 2011 Personalized Medicine Conference.
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