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


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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