Applied Biosystems’ SOLiD™ System is Named Life Science Innovation of the Year
29 Jan 2009

The Scientist magazine cites the technology’s high throughput, lower sequencing cost, and rapid technology innovation for unlocking new approaches to clinical research.  Applied Biosystems, part of Life Technologies Corporation, a provider of innovative life science research and discovery solutions, has announced that its technology for next-generation genomic analysis, the SOLiD™ System, has been named the Life Science Innovation of the Year for 2008 by The Scientist, a leading scientific publication focused on the life science industry. In making the announcement of the first-ever Life Science Innovation of the Year Award, the publication recognised new technologies that represent a combination of invention, vision and utility during the past year.

The SOLiD System received the top award based upon its ability to significantly reduce the cost of DNA sequencing, which will enable basic and clinical researchers who may not have previously considered genomic approaches to re-evaluate their experimental workflow. The technology, which was commercially launched in October of 2007, is defining a new industry standard in DNA sequencing by delivering a combination of high throughput, unmatched accuracy, and low cost per project that was previously unavailable in the life science community. For instance, scientists from Life Technologies used the SOLiD System earlier this year to sequence an entire human genome for $60,000, establishing the lowest cost ever reported for a sequencing project, shattering the $100,000 industry milestone.

The SOLiD System continues to rapidly evolve, with the latest version of the platform – SOLiD 3 System – setting new standards with significantly higher sample throughput. The new system, which is to be launched in early 2009, will yield more than 20 gigabases of mappable sequence data, or 400 million tags per run. This vast improvement in data output per run is expected to further reduce the cost of genomic sequencing for multiple applications, including DNA, RNA and epigenetic analysis. By providing the life science community with access to high quality genomic data at a lower cost per sample, researchers will be able to accelerate disease association and biomarker discovery studies to improve diagnostics and disease management.

“This system is the breakthrough on the way to a whole genome sequence that would take weeks and cost roughly $10,000,” said David Piston, Ph.D., a renowned professor of molecular physiology & biophysics at Vanderbilt University, who was one of the members of the panel of judges for the Life Science Innovation of the Year Award. “This really puts the possibility of personalised medicine in play. For research, people that never considered genomic approaches are now doing so. In so many ways, this machine changes the paradigm of how we can approach research and clinical care.”

The SOLiD platform features an open-slide architecture that offers inherent scalability to accommodate a wide array of applications in a cost-effective manner. The combination of increasing bead density, extending read lengths to greater than 50 base pairs, high accuracy, and multiplexing capability of up to 256 samples in a single run, will enable the SOLiD 3 System to generate approximately seven fold coverage across the entire human genome. This will enable researchers to extract more meaningful biological information with fewer samples.

Other key enhancements provide a more efficient workflow, including simplified sample handling, optimised chemistry for improved performance, automation for unattended operation, enhanced software algorithms to streamline data handling, and a suite of bioinformatics software tools to expand the breadth of supported applications. In total, the SOLiD 3 System offers a complete workflow solution for many applications such as whole genome sequencing, targeted re-sequencing, whole transcriptome analysis, gene expression profiling, small RNA characterisation, methylation profiling, and chromatin-immunoprecipitation sequencing analysis. These productivity and performance enhancements will enable genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic studies on a single platform, which should enable researchers to take a comprehensive molecular approach to understanding complex biological systems.

“The 2008 Life Science Innovation of the Year Award from The Scientist is a significant milestone in Life Technologies’ quest to ultimately make personalised medicine a reality,” said Mark Stevenson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Life Technologies. “We continue to invest and develop the SOLiD technology, which we have always believed would prove to be the highest-performing and most cost-effective solution for the vast majority of sequencing projects going forward. This prestigious honour is validation that we’re making a difference for our customers around the world.”

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