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Illumina Estimates 1,500 Next-Gen Sequencers Installed to Date


By Julia Karow

This article, originally published March 25, has been updated to include clarification from Illumina on Jay Flatley's comments.

Approximately 1,500 next-generation sequencers have been installed in laboratories to date, according to an estimate by an Illumina official.

At the Barclays Capital Global Healthcare Conference in Miami on Wednesday, Illumina President and CEO Jay Flatley said that compared to the 15,000 or so capillary sequencers installed in labs around the world, next-gen sequencing systems still have a long way to go. "We have really only begun to penetrate the really high end of that marketplace with somewhere in the range of 1,500 overall next-generation sequencers installed," he said.

An Illumina spokesperson confirmed after the presentation that Flatley was referring to all next-generation sequencers on the market, not just systems from Illumina.

Long term, Flatley said, "any lab that is doing advanced molecular biology research is going to have to have access to next-gen sequencing in one form or another," representing a market opportunity of 50,000 labs.

Flatley also provided a brief update on the HiSeq 2000 sequencer, which the company launched in January. At that time, it also announced an order of 128 HiSeq systems by Chinese genome center BGI.

Illumina is now shipping HiSeq "actively," Flatley said, and has "quite a number of systems" installed at BGI, several of which "have passed validation runs." In the second quarter, the company expects to ship HiSeq machines "in significant volumes," he added.

With regards to the Avantome technology, which Illumina acquired in 2008, Flatley said that it will target "the lower end" of the sequencing market and will compete "more directly" with low-throughput capillary sequencers. He said the company is not yet providing a launch date for a platform using the Avantome technology, "but we are working on it actively in our R&D labs."

Last week, Illumina launched a new platform, HiScanSQ, its first product to enable both microarray experiments and DNA sequencing (see In Sequence 3/23/2010). Flatley said today that the introduction of HiScan was delayed by about six months because the company decided to install optics technology developed for the HiSeq platform into the array scanner that is part of HiScanSQ.

HiScanSQ, which will start shipping in the second quarter, will deliver up to 50 gigabases of data per run, "equivalent to what the installed base of GAIIx is doing, on average, in the field today," Flatley said. "We think this will be an ideal system for customers who want to transition microarray-based applications over to doing DNA sequencing."