Ion Torrent Retrospective - 2011

We’ve come a long way in 6 short months.  The beginning of a new year is a great time for retrospectives.  Keith Robison over at Omics! Omics! has done just that with his “Reflecting on a Year of Ion Torrent”.  I want to do something similar, but will use this opportunity to revisit one of our first Ion posts and draw some comparisons.

I came across one of the original posts in our Ion series “Ion v. MiSeq – Is There a Competition, And If So, Why?”  I will stay away from the Miseq v. Ion debate in this post.  Rather, I would like to highlight the growth of the platform in throughput, quality, cost and usability.  I may even do a little bit of looking forward…though Keith has done sufficient prognostication - I would just be reiterating.

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Ion Proton Intensifies Competition in Benchtop Sequencing

Word came out last night about the launch of a new sequencing platform from Life Technologies, the Ion Proton Machine. There are articles from Forbes, Financial Times, and Life Technologies discussing the announcement of this technology.

Ion Proton Machine

Ion Proton Machine

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Perspective on the HiSeq2500

So much for a slow journey, huh? I leave the office for a day and I miss the announcement of the improvements to Illumina’s two DNA sequencing instruments, the HiSeq and the MiSeq. In case you missed it, you can learn more here. Now it seems we have a choice of platform, should we want our whole genomes in one day, either the HiSeq® 2500 or the ion torrent Proton machine, which we covered in our previous blog post.


The cool thing about the HiSeq 2500 is that it will have dual running modes. Want a genome in a day? Switch to a mode that will deliver 120 Gb of data in 27 hours, roughly equivalent to a human whole genome at 40X coverage. Need more data? Switch to a second mode and generate 600 Gb of data over approximately 11 days.

Roche, Illumina and the Clinic

By now you have heard that Roche has submitted a hostile takeover bid for Illumina to the tune of over $5 billion USD. If you have not you can read about the particulars here.







Early speculation has it that this will turbocharge the effort to have DNA sequencing used routinely in the clinic given Roche’s distribution channels and partners in diagnostics. My question is, "Are the clinics, and the clinicians, ready for this very powerful tool to arrive on their doorstep?" Clearly it would take at least a year for Roche to fully digest the acquisition but they already have been making inroads via their 454 instrument. Having a platform like the MiSeq would only hasten their ability to deliver a truly robust system to the diagnostic marketplace.