JP Morgan kicks off today and there are sure to be lots of exciting announcements by many of the life science companies we’re all using. I’m particularly interested to hear about new developments in the diagnostics space as my new job is going to be much more focused on DX technologies. Having said that I’m still very interested in what companies like Illumina will present on their core technologies.


Last year everything I predicted was incorrect so I’ve no qualms about making predictions this year (I can’t do worse).

Firefly: My “big” prediction was for an integrated sample prep unit for MiSeq, this obviously did not materialise but there have been rumours that Firefly will get a sample prep module built off the ALL technology Illumina acquired. Considering Illumina canned NeoPrep this may simply be a rumour but it would be a shame as Illumina hold a lot of the important IP around electro-wetting technology. This is a tech I’d always hoped we’d see more of but it does not seem to have been easy to develop systems that live up to its promise. If it does not appear in Firefly we may see more litigation for ONT and their Voltrax (this looks to use similar tech), although it would be a shame if Illumina simply became a patent troll for electrowetting tech.

NovaSeq: whilst the instrument has been an unqualified success for Illumina the S4 chip is likely to be the big draw for many users. S4 offers very low costs for genomes and exomes providing your budget is big enough to get volume discounts (Broad, HLI, etc are likely to have dramatically lower costs to labs like mine or yours) and you’ve enough indexes to get the most out of the huge data volumes by multiplexing large numbers of samples.

S4 may be tough to push the yields on. At the launch of NovaSeq Francis de Souza said this instrument opens the road to the $100 genome. However that would mean reducing costs by ten-fold from HiSeq X – and that needs to be done without affecting Illumina’s 70% margins on reagents, or the stock market is not going to be happy.  S4 is pretty tightly packed and it is unclear how far the size of clusters, or their pitch, can be reduced whilst still maintaining quality. Hopefully we’ll here something when Illumina present.


I’m hoping they’ll be presenting data on their Hyb&Seq, as well as recent DX developments – however the high price of the hardware is still likely to put user off as capital budgets are tight.

10X Genomics:

I’m hopping Serge talks about new assays coming in 2018. The TCR kits have been successful but users would like to get both GX and TCR from the same single-cell, which can’t be done with the current tech. Update: it is possible to get GX and TCR from the same cell, but not the standard 3’mRNA-Seq GX data – you can split cDNA after RT for 5′ GX analysis and TCR (targeted) analysis. A full-length cDNA sequencing method would be great – maybe Serge will discuss the use of ONT sequencing with their single cell RNA-Seq prep, after all 10X simply tag the 3′ end of each RNA with a molecular and cell barcode making it suitable for Promethion analysis.

10X are also likely to provide more details on the recent announcement hat they are partnering with Berry genomics for NIPT (read about this on GenomeWeb).