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Life Tech to Launch $230,000 'SOLiD PI' Sequencer; Early Access to Start in Second Half of this Year

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This article, originally published Feb. 24, has been updated with additional information from Life Technologies.

By Julia Karow

Life Technologies said last week that it plans to release a smaller version of its Applied Biosystems SOLiD 4 system, called SOLiD PI, "that will bring next-generation sequencing within the grasp of all life science research laboratories worldwide."

SOLiD PI, which Life Tech designed in partnership with Hitachi High-Technologies, uses the same ligation-based sequencing chemistry as the SOLiD 4. It can generate up to 50 gigabases of mappable sequence data per run, or 800 million tags per mate-pair run, and deliver sequence data in "as little as" two days, using a "streamlined workflow," according to the company.

Applications for the SOLiD PI include SNP detection, targeted resequencing, whole transcriptome analysis, and digital gene expression analysis.

Early-access customers will start adopting the SOLiD PI, which has a US list price of $230,000, in the second half of the year. Sequencing costs per sample will be "as low as" $200, Life Tech said.

According to Michael Rhodes, senior manager of Life Technologies' sequencing portfolio, the SOLiD PI will have a run time of as little as 24 hours for 35-base unpaired reads, and a day and a half for 50-base unpaired reads.

Users will be able to load samples into several channels of a flow chip, each channel generating about 100 million sequence reads, although he said that number — as well as the maximum output of 50 gigabases — may still change before launch.

The system will support the same types of libraries as the SOLiD 4 hq and will be able to generate up to 75-base fragment reads, 75 x 35-base paired-end reads, and 75-base mate-paired reads, he said.

The SOLiD PI will come with a computer for base calling, leaving it up to the customer what other compute hardware to add.

For comparison, Life Tech's recently launched SOLiD 4 generates 100 gigabases of mappable sequence data or more than 1.4 billion mate-pair reads per run, has a list price of $495,000, and a minimum run time of 4 days for 35-base reads. Later this year, that system is expected to reach an output of up to 300 gigabases per run (see In Sequence 2/2/2010).

With the introduction of the SOLiD PI, Life Tech follows a trend started by other sequencing vendors to offer smaller and less expensive versions of their platforms, in addition to their high-throughput systems.

Last November, Roche's 454 Life Sciences said it will start selling a scaled-down version of its GS FLX called GS Junior this year, at a fourth to a fifth of the price of the FLX. The Junior will generate about 35 megabases per run with 400- to 500-base reads (see In Sequence 12/1/2009).

And last month, Illumina launched the GAIIe, a smaller version of its GAIIx that will cost $250,000 and generate up to 20 gigabases of data per run initially, and 40 gigabases in the future (see In Sequence 1/19/2010).

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