Archives for: January 2010

Far from Commoditization

Automated DNA sequencing ramped up in the late 90s with the introduction of the capillary electrophoresis (CE) instruments developed by Applied Biosystems. This platform played a key role in the race to sequence the first human genome, and retains a tenuous hold as the gold standard for de novo sequencing, particularly of larger genomes (e.g., mammals). CE represents the first-generation of automated sequencing technology, whereas the short-read, high-throughput platforms commercialized by 454 Life Sciences, Illumina and Life Technologies represent the second generation. These instruments have been on the market since the mid-2000s and their performance has improved rapidly without fundamental changes in the underlying technologies. The first third-generation, long-read / high-throughput platform is already on the market and others are expected soon. (Read more…)

Filed under: Genome sequencing | Alejandro @ 12:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Whole Genome Cost is Not the Whole Story

The cost of whole genome sequencing is a proxy for the performance of sequencing instruments – but looking at it alone can lead to the wrong conclusions. The obsessive focus on how this cost is plummeting reinforces the impression that competition is entirely cost-driven, implies that there is no differentiation between technologies, creates the sense that sequencing (and more specifically, whole human genome sequencing) is the only application of this technology and that all companies are competing solely for this market, and supports the overly simplistic conclusion that the sequencing instrument business will soon be a profit-free endeavor. Current reality, however, is almost the complete opposite of these suppositions. (Read more…)

Filed under: Genome sequencing | Alejandro @ 6:18 AM | | Comments (0)

What’s Cheaper and Greener Than Clean Energy?

Clean energy gets a lot of press these days, for good reason.  But behind all this excitement is another solution that’s playing a key role in combating global warming today:  residential energy efficiency.  It’s low-tech, relatively low-cost, and has huge potential. We recently completed a project to help the Sierra Club plan an extensive home retrofit program as part of their ambitious emissions reduction goals.

Why homes? According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, homes are responsible for 21 percent of U.S. emissions, twice as much as from passenger cars. Matt Golden, founder of Efficiency First, an industry trade group, has said that if a steady run-rate of 10 million residential energy efficiency retrofits per year is achieved by 2020, the U.S. could net a five percent decrease in the country’s overall carbon emissions.  Still, despite the great opportunity, many consumers are unaware of the importance of energy efficiency or what steps they can take to reduce their energy usage. Learn more about residential energy efficiency here and here.

Filed under: Energy efficiency | Kristen @ 4:12 PM | | Comments (0)

Is the Genome Sequencing Industry Doomed?

Many companies and commentators have likened the evolution of DNA sequencing technology to that of computing (see, for example, this interview with Jonathan Rothberg, founder of 454 Life Sciences). The story goes like this: from a world of “mainframes” — the first-generation Sanger sequencing platforms –, to the current “minicomputers” – the second-generation instruments offered by 454, Illumina and Life Technologies –, it is easy to infer a rapid transition into third- and perhaps fourth-generation technologies that will eventually culminate in the sequencing equivalent of the laptop computer or the mobile, wireless computer.  (Read more…)

Filed under: Genome sequencing | Alejandro @ 12:50 AM | | Comments (0)

The Business of Sequencing

One of the most dynamic sectors in high tech these days is the field of genome sequencing. There is a high profile technological race to reduce the cost of sequencing and open up new and promising areas of research as well as clinical applications. In a medium rife with hyperbole and overstatement, one can still repeat with a straight face that this technology, and the knowledge it will unlock, is going to change our world. (Read more…)

Filed under: Genome sequencing | Alejandro @ 10:00 PM | | Comments (3)

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