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Life Tech Launches Network of Certified Exome Sequencing Providers for Proton

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Life Technologies has certified seven sequencing providers for exome sequencing on the Ion Proton using the AmpliSeq Exome technology as part of its newly developed AmpliSeq Exome Certified Service Provider program.

Initial members of the program include the Hospital for Sick Children, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Claritas Genomics, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, GeneDx, Cedars Sinai Genomics Core, and Selah Genomics.

The program is part of the broader Ion Certified Service Provider program, which has so far certified organizations to provide sequencing services on the Ion Torrent PGM.

Over the next several months, Life Tech expects as many as 35 providers will join the AmpliSeq Exome program.

Certified members provide exome sequencing on the Ion Proton using the Ion AmpliSeq Exome kit and Ion Reporter software.

According to Maneesh Jain, Life's vice president of business development and marketing, the goal of the program is to provide customers with "easy access to fast, low-cost, and high-quality sequencing."

In order to become certified, a provider must demonstrate proficiency operating the Ion Proton and deliver consistent results using the AmpliSeq Exome kit, said Jain.

The requirements include generating at least 30 million reads per exome using 50 nanograms of starting DNA, covering 88 percent to 90 percent of the exome at 20x, and at an all-in reagents cost of $400. Additionally, providers must be able to sequence two exomes in one two-hour run with a total turnaround time of two days.

In the future, Life Tech plans to add transcriptome sequencing services to the program, Jain said. Already, around one-third of Proton customers are doing transcriptome sequencing, Jain said, so "we expect to expand to transcriptome over time."

Jain anticipates that customers of the program will include both industry and academic researchers, with academic researchers likely transitioning from outsourcing to doing sequencing in-house. Academic researchers will "use the service to get the data quickly," he said, "but will eventually run it themselves," while outsourcing makes more sense as a long-term prospect for industry customers, whose primary expertise is typically not sequencing.

Xia Hau, Life Tech's senior market development manager, said that the program will target "customers that are new to exome sequencing," and want to gain experience with minimum financial risk. Additionally, she said that the service would address a need in the market for quick turnaround, since the certified providers must be able to deliver results in two days.

Jain said that unlike Illumina, which has both its own sequencing services business and its Illumina Genome Network, through which certified institutions provide whole-genome sequencing services on Illumina HiSeq machines, Life Tech has no intention to offer sequencing services of its own.

Currently, there are nine members of the IGN: the National Center for Genome Resources; the Macrogen Genomic Medicine Institute; the University of Washington, Department of Genome Sciences; British Columbia Cancer Agency; The Broad Institute; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; Peking University; and Takara Bio.

The two firms also have slightly different requirements. For instance, providers in the IGN must own 10 HiSeq systems in order to ensure the "capacity and scalability necessary to manage large projects," according to the company's website.

Life Tech, meantime, requires members own only one Proton.

Jain said the lower requirement to become a certified provider will enable the company to enroll many more providers and expand access to Proton sequencing services.

The goal is to "enable a broad set of customers to be able to do exomes," he said.

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