Illumina wraps lab automation and software around HiSeq X to lower barrier to mass sequencing

Illumina's HiSeq X Ten is designed to sequence a human genome for $1,000.
Illumina's HiSeq X Ten genome sequencing system

Illumina ($ILMN) has introduced a suite of tools and software to help research organizations new to population-scale sequencing to get started with its HiSeq X Ten and Five systems. The move comes one month after BGI joined the large-scale sequencing field with a package that covers each step of the process, from sample preparation to data analysis.

San Diego, CA-based Illumina has good reasons to introduce its own package. Long before BGI stepped up competition in the population-scale sequencing field, Illumina was commenting on how surprised it was by the level of interest in HiSeq X Ten from organizations with minimal experience in the field. BGI has pitched its sequencing system, Revolocity, at such operations by trying to make it as close to a plug-and-play platform as is possible. Illumina has always provided end-to-end support, through integration with NeoPrep and Basespace, but the new offering formalizes the package.

By removing some of the technical barriers to setting up a population-scale sequencing system, Illumina will position itself to target a bigger pool of possible customers. "This complete solution was important in our decision to purchase the HiSeq X System and to undertake population-scale whole-genome sequencing of large well-characterized cohorts in Scotland," Professor David Hume, director of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. The Roslin Institute is part of a project to install 15 HiSeq X sequencers in Scotland.

As well as the sequencers, the Scottish research consortium will gain access to Clarity LIMS X Edition, Microlab STAR liquid handling robotics, HiSeq Analysis Software v2.0 and Illumina SeqLab Consulting Service. Illumina has worked with GenoLogics and Hamilton Robotics--the makers of Clarity LIMS and Microlab Star, respectively--to put together the integrated package. The suite is designed to enable any lab to get their sequencing operation up to full speed in 6 weeks, a timeline that is achieved by removing the burden of developing and configuring automation and software systems.

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