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Fluidigm Sees Triple-Digit Growth for NGS Sample Prep; Plans Protocols for Ion Torrent, MiSeq


By Bernadette Toner

Fluidigm this week reported triple-digit growth in first quarter sales for its Access Array multiplexed sample-prep products for next-generation sequencing.

Company officials also said that the company plans to offer Access Array protocols for the Life Technologies Ion Torrent PGM and Illumina MiSeq benchtop sequencers. The platform currently supports the Life Technologies SOLiD, Illumina GA and HiSeq, Roche 454 FLX and GS Junior, and Pacific Biosciences RS systems.

A Fluidigm spokesperson said that an Access Array protocol for the Ion Torrent PGM is currently in beta testing, while the company has established "strong proof of principle" for its MiSeq protocol.

In a call to discuss the company's first-quarter financial results this week, Fluidigm CEO Gajus Worthington cited next-gen sequencing as one of three key growth opportunities for the company, joining single-cell analysis and ag-bio SNP genotyping.

Next-gen sequencing "is an area where we are experiencing robust, triple-digit growth," he said in the call. "The rise of powerful NGS platforms has created a need for focused sequencing of many samples in parallel," which represents an opportunity for the company's multiplexed Access Array sample prep system, he said.

Fluidigm did not break out revenues for its different product lines, but reported an overall revenue increase of 30 percent for the first quarter, to $8.7 million from $6.7 million in the first quarter of 2010.

In addition, the company disclosed that 75 of the 350 total instruments in its current installed base are related to sample prep for next-gen sequencing.

The Access Array system "exhibited the biggest increase in sales of our instrument systems" during the quarter, Worthington said during the call.

Fluidigm's Access Array is based on the company's Integrated Fluidic Circuit microfluidic technology and enables parallel amplification of 48 samples — the equivalent of 48 sequencing libraries — in a few hours. The system can be used for target enrichment, sample barcoding for multiplexed sequencing, and sequencing library preparation using amplicon tagging.

Worthington said that the company views benchtop sequencers like the GS Junior, PGM, and MiSeq as a key growth prospect for the Access Array system.

"Their throughput isn't high enough to be competitive for, say, whole-genome sequencing, so that really falls right in the wheelhouse of the Access Array," he said.

Worthington noted that the company has identified "a global installed base of more than 14,000 [capillary electrophoresis] systems that may be vulnerable to robust, targeted sequencing applications on next-gen systems using our Access Array product."

Fluidigm spokesperson Howard High said the company has been working with Ion Torrent on the PGM Access Array protocol, which is currently in beta testing. He noted that researchers from Fluidigm, Ion Torrent, and the National Cancer Institute reported initial results of a combined Access Array and PGM configuration at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in February (IS 2/8/2011).

Regarding the MiSeq, High said the company believes that its current protocols for the Illumina GA and HiSeq systems "will require very little adjustment and can quickly be ready for use after the product becomes available."

Illumina plans to begin shipping MiSeq instruments in the third quarter.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in In Sequence? Contact the editor at btoner [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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