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Life Technologies promises $1,000 genome

On January 10, Life Technologies' CEO Gregory Lucier announced the latest breakthrough in sequencing technology with the launch of the Ion Proton Sequencer, a faster version of its Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM). The machine is the brainchild of Jonathan Rothberg, former CEO of Ion Torrent, which was bought by Life Technologies of Carlsbad, California, in 2010. The new sequencer uses semi-conductor technology to read DNA sequences, coupled with a dramatic ramp-up in the chip's well density. “[With the old chip] if you took out a human hair and put it over a well, you would cover 400 wells. [On] our new chip, you'll cover 10,000 wells,” says Rothberg. In addition, the new chip moves the hydrogen ion sensor (hydrogen is released when a nucleotide is incorporated into DNA) onto the chip. Unlike light detection technologies that slow down as density increases, with semi-conductors, the rate is faster. “The first chip did a million wells in two hours, the new one will do a billion,” says Rothberg. Although data obtained from the chip won't be released until mid-February, the company reports that a human-sized genome can be sequenced in two hours, at a cost of $1,000 in materials. The new machine will cost $149,000. Within hours of Lucier's announcement, Life Technology's main competitor, Illumina of San Diego, announced an upgrade to their HiSeq 2000 that will sequence a human genome in a day.

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DeFrancesco, L. Life Technologies promises $1,000 genome. Nat Biotechnol 30, 126 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0212-126a

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