Thursday 1 October 2015

The new Pacific Biosciences sequencer

PacBio announced a baby RSII yesterday, which should be in the shops just in time for Christmas! The Sequel System (sounds like SequalPrep from Thermo for PCR cleanup) sounds like a big advance on the enormous RSII. Most aspects of the sequencing work flow are unchanged. Sequel has been developed as part of the collaboration with Roche to develop a diagnostics instrument, milestone payments of $20-40M are expected on the back of this.
  • $350,000 for Sequel (versus $1,000,000 for RSII)
  • Seven times more reads than RSII
  • 1/3rd the size and weight (so only 2000 or so MinIONs will fit inside)
  • New SMRT cells with 1,000,000 ZMWs compared to RSII's 150,000

One of the exciting possibilities is using Iso-seq on Sequel for full-length transcriptomes. One million reads makes this attractive for discovery and quantitation, and this could be a niche where PacBio has some real strengths.

See the Sequel System in booth #907 at ASHG. PacBio wi also live stream their ASHG workshop on Wednesday, October 7, from 1:00-2:30 p.m, with talks by Richard Gibbs (Baylor) and Rick Wilson (WashU). There is also a conference call later today, October 1, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. EST: USA 707 287 9330 and webcast live. Watch PacBio's video although you won't learn much more than in their press release.

I'm unsure what this means for RSII customers, will they get a free trade-in? Or will the RSII SMRT-cells get the same density improvements in the near future?

It is also unclear how the new PacBio machine will stack up against MinION. I expect we'll find out lots more at 2016s AGBT. And by then we'll know what Illumina announced in January!


  1. I wonder at what point the Sequel becomes a viable replacement for Sanger sequencing (let's say if we were operating 2/3 Sanger sequencing and 1/3 NGS discovery work with polyploid genomes not suited to Illumina sequencing). We currently outsource all of our Sanger sequencing after mostly cloning and miniprepping each product. After developing a routine PCR product barcoding and pool demultiplexing, we could run the sequencer 2-3x a week and replace shipments out for Sanger sequencing. I worry about reliability - any other caveats?

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