Today, at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Illumina announced the release of a new series of instruments called NovaSeq. Continuing the use of ExAmp cluster amplification and patterned nano-wells that form the basis of HiSeq 3000/4000 HiSeq X Ten and HiSeq X Five flow cell technology, Illumina further reduced the spacing between nanowells to increase cluster density and data output. In the end, this promises to produce ~ 2-3x more reads than a single 8 lane HiSeq X flow cell.
Here are the specs available on day 1 of launch:
Number of instruments being launched: 2; NovaSeq 5000 and 6000
Non-technical application based restrictions: No, unlike the HiSeq X Ten or HiSeq X Five; these instruments will not have application based restrictions. Illumina plans to continue restricting HiSeq X instruments to WGS applications (1).
Potential technical based restrictions: Notable is the absence of Nextera based DNA or Nextera Exome in the list of compatible library preparation kits. Mate-pair based Nextera kits are however listed as compatible (2). This may indicate there are template (library) size restrictions on this instrument (similar to HiSeq 3000/4000 and HiSeq X).
Instrument availability: NovaSeq 6000 will begin shipping in March 2017 and NovaSeq 5000 will begin shipping mid-2017.
Anticipated availability on Genohub: In April 2017, researchers will be able to order NovaSeq based sequencing. This hinges on on-time instrument delivery to our partnering service providers.
Instrument cost: NovaSeq 5000 and 6000 Systems are priced at $850,000 and $985,000 respectively
Target Market: Research labs that cannot afford the capital cost of a HiSeq X Five or HiSeq X Ten System and don’t want to deal with the restrictions. HiSeq X Five and Ten systems are restricted from running RNA-seq or exome based libraries.
Other updates: RFID added to make sure loading is done properly, reduction in the number of steps in a sequencing workflow (from 38 to 8) (1) and flow cell loading is automated.
Cbot or onboard clustering: onboard
Tunable output: 4 flow cells are available. NovaSeq S1 and S2 flow cells are compatible with both NoveSeq 5000 and 6000 systems while NovaSeq S3 and S4 are exclusive to NovaSeq 6000 instruments.
Two color or Four color chemistry: Two color, like the NextSeq 500
Number of lanes: S1 and S2 have two lanes whereas S3 and S4 have four lanes
Available read lengths: 2×50, 2×100 and 2×150
Run times: < 19, 29 and 40 hours for 2×50, 2×100 and 2×150 bp read lengths respectively
|Instrument and flow cell
||Reads per flow cell *(billion)
||Output from 2×150 bp run (Gb) *
|NovaSeq 5000/6000 S1
|NovaSeq 5000/6000 S2
|NovaSeq 6000 S3
|NovaSeq 6000 S4
*Output and read numbers based on a single flow cell
Number of flow cells that can be run at once: 1 or 2 flow cells can be run on both the NovaSeq 5000 or 6000
So what does this mean for the sequencing industry? Clearly the Novaseq was launched to target research labs that can’t afford the capital costs of the HiSeq X series but want to upgrade from their current HiSeq instruments. NovaSeq S3 and S4 flow cells promise to produce 2-3x more reads than a single 8 lane HiSeq X flow cell (2.6-3 billion reads). Of course, if NovaSeq is priced to run 2-3x more expensive than a HiSeq X flow cell, the cost it takes to sequence a genome will be the same. When reagent pricing is available, this will be more clear.
2016 was a tough year for Illumina as it lost one third of its value. As Illumina launches another instrument geared for the research market, much continues to hinge on federally funded research grants to fuel growth. A focus on developing clinical based applications, insurance reimbursable tests and a global shift toward diagnostics is going to be required for sustained growth. ‘Market generation’ activities, as were initiatives like Helix and Grail are steps in this direction.