Is the $1,000 genome for real?

Erika Check Hayden in Nature:

HiSeqX_Ten_Single_Instrument_630The US$1,000 genome is here. Or so says sequencing-technology company Illumina, based in San Diego, California. At a healthcare investors' conference on 14 January, Illumina CEO Jay Flatley announced that his company will begin producing a new system this year called the HiSeq X Ten, one that can deliver “full coverage human genomes for less than $1,000”. Here Nature assesses the claim.

How did they do it?

Christian Henry, a senior vice president at Illumina, said that the HiSeq X contains four main improvements to Illumina's existing HiSeq 2500 system. The workhorse of the HiSeq 2500 is the flow cell, which houses hundreds of millions to billions of individual DNA templates copied from a sample to be sequenced. The DNA in these templates is labelledusing flourescent dyes that are photographed by a camera, and the resulting images are analysed to detect the identity of each base. But while the HiSeq 2500 contains a random smattering of DNA templates all across the flow cell, the HiSeq X contains an ordered array of 'nanowells' to house these DNA templates. This means that the templates can be packed in more densely on the flow cell, enabling the machine to read data out more data per run of the machine. Illumina has also figured out a way to enhance clustering of identical DNA templates in most of the nanowells, further boosting speed. Finally, the company added a faster camera and new polymerase enzymes to carry out faster sequencing reactions on the DNA templates.

More here.