I’m not in tomorrow as I’m off to a funeral so I’ll not be writing anymore about the new sequencer from Illumina till later in the week. But here’s my initial thoughts…

Illumina’s presentation at JP Morgan is over and they’ve certainly delivered. NovaSeq is the latest in their line-up, which now includes 6 sequencers: MiniSeq, MiSeq, NextSeq, HiSeq, NovaSeq and X-Ten. As the picture below says a “sequencing system for every lab”! Other news from Illumina included their new single-cell box with BioRadLifeSci: the ddSEQ Single-Cell Isolator and SureCell WTA 3′ Library Prep Kit.

Illumina's sequencer line-up including NovaSeq

Introducing NovaSeq

The NovaSeq has many of the features found in the desktop sequencers, onboard cluster generation, cartridge-based reagents. The four different flow cell types will enable from 1.6 billion to 10 billion reads per run, and from 500Gb to 3000Gb. At just $850,000 or $985,000 they’ll put HiSeq X Ten performance in labs like mine allowing us to deliver the $1,000 genome without resorting to a service lab.

NovaSeq has mind boggling capacity being capable of sequencing from 3 to 48 human genomes per run. This is likely to make Cancer genomes a possibility even at the high-coverage that people are running exomes. For groups interested in heterogeneity or tumour evolution perhaps the exome is dying?

NovaSeq is expected to enable the $100 [human 30x] genome

Those look very much like NextSeq flowcells in the NovaSeq and I was not clear whether a single samples is loaded as in NextSeq, or if multiple samples can be run as on a cBot. This is going to be key when you can run over 300 RNA-Seq samples on a single flowcell. We’d only turn the box on once per month to run all our RNA-Seq projects! However sequencing costs will need to be low to pull RNA-Seq users onto the new instrument as capital costs are high.

You’ll need NovaSeq 6000 to access all four flowcell configurations e.g to get the full range of read outputs. So a core lab might be better off paying the little bit extra…unfortunately that little bit costs more than a NextSeq!

NovaSeq applications

A big hit with Illumina customers is going to be the support for diverse applications. Some of us have worked hard over the last year to get many of these running on HiSeq 4000, but NovaSeq will support them out of the box. In particular Methylation sequencing is a “Key application” on NovaSeq.

Customers quoted in the press release included J. Craig Venter, of Human Longevity Inc, who said NovaSeq would “complement our existing HiSeq X Systems”; Richard Gibbs, of Baylor College of Medicine; Aris Baras, of Regeneron Genetics Center (which has sequenced 150,000 exomes). These are groups with big budgets and it remains to be seen if Illumina can drive instrument sales back up, in volume, especially in Europe, with this box. And that is something the stock market will be watching keenly.

I’m expecting mine on April 1st.