By Julia Karow
Life Technologies plans to launch in-solution target enrichment kits for the SOLiD and the Ion Torrent PGM, starting with an exome kit for SOLiD this summer.
The TargetSeq exome enrichment kit, content for which Life Tech developed in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center, is scheduled to launch in August and will offer an alternative to SOLiD customers currently using competing products from Agilent Technologies and Roche NimbleGen. Early-access customers will be able to test the product starting in late June.
Shortly afterward, Life Tech plans to launch a custom TargetSeq enrichment kit for the SOLiD that will cover targets from 200 kilobases to 60 megabases. A custom enrichment kit will eventually also be available for the Ion Torrent, according to the company, but not an exome kit, since the PGM does not currently generate sufficient data per run.
The TargetSeq exome enrichment kit will fill a gap in Life Tech's current product portfolio for the SOLiD. Up until now, the company has recommended other firms' capture products to its SOLiD customers. Since 2009, it has also had a co-marketing agreement with Agilent for that firm's SureSelect Target Enrichment System, and that agreement will remain in place, according to a Life Tech spokesperson.
But according to Chris Adams, senior product manager for genetic systems at Life Tech, the new exome kit will offer several advantages for SOLiD users. The kit has been optimized for the SOLiD platform and its probes have been rebalanced so the coverage across the target region is more balanced than that of other products, he claimed.
Further, the kit will contain all necessary reagents, while other kits require users to purchase certain reagents — for example magnetic beads — from other vendors.
The kit will also support multiplex capture from up to four samples in parallel, which he said lowers the cost per sample. The product's list price has not yet been determined but he said it will be "competitively priced."
The exome kit targets 45.2 megabases in total, including the entire exome, as well as some non-coding RNAs and microRNAs, according to Adams. The product will require 500 nanograms of DNA as input, or 125 nanograms per library if four samples are processed in parallel.
According to Matthew Bainbridge, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, the Life Tech kit covers the coding exons of the CCDS, RefSeq, and Vega databases, including portions of the exome that are not unique. As such, it targets more coding exons than the Roche NimbleGen SeqCap EZ Exome product that Baylor has been using primarily so far (IS 8/3/2010). This also means that the new kit will require users to generate slightly more sequence data in order to cover the targets adequately, he said.
Bainbridge said that Baylor has "just about" replaced all its exome sequencing reagents with the new Life Tech reagents for studies that include Mendelian and complex disorders, as well as phenotypically normal individuals.
Kary Staples, director of international marketing at Roche NimbleGen, said that since the official design of Life Tech's TargetSeq exome product has not yet been released, he cannot currently compare it to NimbleGen's exome kit.
NimbleGen, he added, is finalizing development of version 3 of its SeqCap EZ Exome kit, which will expand the content of the current version and provide "an extremely comprehensive exome design."
Agilent, meanwhile, believes its SureSelect capture products will remain attractive to SOLiD customers. According to Fred Ernani, Agilent's director of marketing for SureSelect, the platform is already well established and has a strong publication record, including several papers from SOLiD customers. As part of their co-marketing agreement, Agilent and Life Tech have also jointly optimized SureSelect for SOLiD. And while SureSelect protocols do not currently support multiplexing during capture, post-capture barcoding is possible.
Many SOLiD customers, Ernani said, also own other types of next-gen sequencing platforms, and SureSelect is currently compatible with the SOLiD, Illumina, and Roche/454 platforms. Recently, SureSelect has also been tested with Pacific Biosciences' PacBio RS, he added.
Agilent also has plans to automate the SureSelect workflow. This summer, it will launch an automation system that will support library prep and capture, and several SOLiD customers are currently testing this system as part of an early-access program, he said.
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