Investors shrug off Illumina’s $200 genome

New machines, new chemistry, the ability to sequence an entire human genome for just $200, and Barack Obama in the audience… and it’s not enough. Illumina’s bombastic launch event yesterday, for a suite of new products including the high-end NovaSeq X Plus instrument and a long-read technology, left shareholders cold judging by the 4% fall in the group’s stock. This is despite the sellside largely viewing the developments positively, with SVB analysts saying that Illumina had delivered faster, cheaper and more accurate sequencing. They did however admit that interest in the company’s new long-read technology was “muted”, as this is seen as having read lengths well below the native long-read technologies produced by companies including Pacbio and Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Stifel said that, should Illumina be able to sequence a whole genome with high accuracy more cheaply than these other two groups, “it would be a massive win” – but no such evidence has yet emerged. The other factor investors are mulling is of course the acquisition of Grail, which Illumina closed without antitrust approval. The company is waiting to hear whether it will be forced to split Grail out again, and be fined for jumping the gun

Seq and ye shall find: Illumina's new products
Sequencing system Details Up-front cost ($K) Launch expected
NovaSeq 6000 Dx  FDA-approved and CE-marked IVD sequencer; output 6 terabytes of data in 44hr Not given Immediately
NovaSeq X Runs one flow cell; max output 6 terabytes in 24hr 985 2023
NovaSeq X Plus Runs two flow cells; max output 16 terabytes in 48hr*. 20,000 whole human genomes per year; $200 per genome at max capacity 1,250 Q1 2023
Complete Long Reads (formerly Infinity) Long-read technology   2023
XLEAP-SBS (formerly Chemistry X) New sequencing by synthesis (SBS) chemistry   Early 2024
*When new high-capacity flow cells are launched in H2 2023. Source: company communications. 

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