Illumina announced the release of its sub $20,000 desktop sequencer aimed at diagnostic labs at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference last week. The iSeq 100 designed with an new 2-Dye preparation technology that speeds up preparation time.
While the cost and speed of sample preparation are a major upgrades, these upgrades are not a huge step in speeding the adoption of next generation sequencing in diagnostic laboratories. While the MiSeq and MiniSeq costing around $50,000 sequence around 25 million base pairs, the iSeq 100 manages only around 4 million base pairs. It is also way slower in post processing the data, making it basically unusable in time critical diagnostic laboratories.
Originally mentioned in 2009 under the codename “Firefly,” the iSeq100 was conceived as a competitor to desktop sequencers made by Ion Torrent. A company which is today owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the same company that owns Illumina. The $20000 sequencer uses both a CMOS chip and Illumina’s normal sequencing-by-synthesis technology. The cost to prepare samples will be cheaper ranging from $25 to $150, although the company did not announce the price of accompanying reagents.
Oxford Nanopore sequencers are achieving 1 million base pairs making iSeq 100 like desktop sequencers obsolete. Illumina is essentially competing against itself by beating the MiSeq and MiniSeq sequencers in terms of price. There’s hope that the next generation of desktop sequencers might sort out the time and base pair length while further reducing the price of acquisition.