Illumina upgrades genome sequencing system

Illumina has announced software upgrades that enable both real-time analysis and a reduction in computing infrastructure requirements for its genome sequencing platform. In combination with the upgraded Genome Analyzer IIx platform, the upgrades are said to increase sequencing output up to 65 percent relative to Genome Analyzer II, according to a company announcement.

The upgrades include optimized image processing and data analysis. Software enhancements include improved cluster detection and algorithm optimization that enables real-time base calling and data processing on the standard instrument control station, the announcement says.

"These advances in Genome Analyzer II informatics represent the latest milestone on the path for researchers to generate 95 gigabases [95 billion bases of DNA] of data per run by year's end," says Scott Kahn, CIO at Illumina. The company claims that it can reverse the trend of data output increases requiring corresponding increases in computing infrastructure.

The company announced in April that the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has acquired 22 Genome Analyzers to increase its installed base to 47 units.  And in February, Illumina unveiled a development roadmap for Genome Analyzer "to generate 25x coverage of a human genome for less than $10,000 in 2009," according to a roadmap announcement.

"Currently we can generate greater than 25x coverage of a human genome in three flow cells; a year ago, more than 40 flow cells were used to complete our first African genome," says David Bentley, VP and chief scientist for DNA sequencing, in the announcement. "By year's end, we anticipate generating the same coverage on a single flow cell, bringing the cost of acquiring a human genome sequence to less than $10,000." Chemistry advances, hardware upgrades, algorithm improvements, and ordered data arrays will drive the improvements, he says.

- here's Illumina's release on the upgrades
- read the roadmap announcement