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NCI, US Geological Survey to Purchase Ion Torrent Sequencers

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This article was originally published Aug. 2.

The National Cancer Institute and the US Geological Survey both plan to purchase a DNA sequencer from Ion Torrent Systems, an instrument that is not yet on the market, according to two solicitations posted recently on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

The NCI’s genetics branch plans to acquire a Pegasus Ion Personal Genome Machine and a Torrent Server, according to the document. NCI plans to use the system for clinical diagnostic research, and in particular, to study genetic alterations in cancer patients.

Existing next-generation sequencing systems, which use optical detection, “are not able to fit on a typical laboratory bench and require runs of several days to weeks to produce sequence read lengths of 100 bp,” according to the NCI, and are therefore not “an optimal match for the rapid data acquisition required for diagnostic research.”

The Ion Torrent sequencer, on the other hand, which requires no optical detection and sequences DNA directly on a semiconductor chip, produces greater than 90 megabases of sequence data with a read length of 100 base pairs in one to two hours and fits in a 24-by-24-inch bench space that the NCI has available for it, according to the institute.

The US Geological Survey plans to purchase an Ion Personal Genome Machine “and components” for its Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, W. Va., but provided no further information on its use.

Ion Torrent plans to commercialize its instrument later this year (IS 3/2/2010).

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