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BGI goes head-to-head with Illumina

In June, Complete Genomics of Mountain View, California, unveiled its plans for a turnkey human sequencing platform, the “Revolocity.” This $12-million, 1,500-squa-foot behemoth will take human samples (spit or blood) and churn out complete human sequences or exomes at the rate of 10,000 complete sequences per year, claims the company. The new platform moves this wholly owned subsidiary of China's Shenzhen-based BGI from a pure service company into an instrument provider and puts it into direct competition with San Diego–based Illumina and its HiSeq X. This is good thing for the market, according to Mick Watson of Edinburgh Genomics, the University of Edinburgh–based provider of sequencing services. “In reality, Illumina is the only company in this space,” he says. Whether the Revolocity will perform up to HiSeq X's standards remains to be seen, however, given a large disparity in read length. Revolocity provides 28 base pair reads, HiSeq X, 150. But with Revolocity comes automation, which will appeal to hospitals wishing to offer genomics to its patients. On the other hand, Illumina has machines in place, global support and a business that works. “For anything to disrupt that, it would have to be a hell of a lot better than the Illumina platform,” says Watson. Complete Genomics will be revealing data from Revolocity at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, this October in Baltimore.

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BGI goes head-to-head with Illumina. Nat Biotechnol 33, 792 (2015).

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