Next Generation Sequencing Promises Greater Accessibility Thanks to New Technology

A leader in the fields of molecular biology and genomics for roughly a quarter of a century, Illumina has revolutionized next generation sequencing (NGS) technology multiple times with its incredible equipment and groundbreaking modalities. Its new NextSeq 1000 and NextSeq 2000 sequencers promise to bring the benefits of NGS to more people than ever thanks to their power, efficiency, user-friendliness, and low cost. As published in GEN Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Illumina recently hailed the vast potential of its new equipment when it comes to the ongoing democratization of next generation sequencing.

A proven tool of basic scientific and clinical medical research, NGS has almost infinite possibilities when it comes to the prevention and treatment of serious genetic health conditions. In its attempts to continually push the science of NGS further, Illumina released the NextSeq 1000 and 2000 sequencers in 2021.

Since that time, many researchers have grown to realize just how effective and easy to use these sequencers are. Combined with the incredibly reasonable price tags of the NextSeq series, these attributes have significantly widened access to NGS processes.

An early adopter of the Illumina NextSeq 1000, Arizona State University (ASU) greatly appreciates the lower sampling time and cost that the sequencer offers. These factors were particularly important given its current subject of study: trying to gain a better understanding and preventing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. ASU assistant professor and biodesign researcher and Efrem Lim, PhD, reports that the NextSeq 1000 costs his team four times less per sample when compared to its former next generation sequencing system. Because it saves them so much in terms of operational overhead, the ASU team has been able to dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 cases that it can sequence while remaining within budget.

Opting for the Illumina NextSeq 2000, the University of Georgia (UGA) has used this sequencer for a broad range of applications. Magdy Alabady, PhD, director of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility at UGA, praises the NextSeq 2000 for its versatility and ease of operation as well as its efficiency and cost. His team has applied the sequencer to perform scRNA sequencing, scATAC sequencing, exome sequencing, metagenomics, and chromatin biology–related functions. Alabady is particularly impressed by the way that the NextSeq 2000 operates as a compact and self-contained unit. Housing everything from fluidics to reagents to waste in the same cartridge, it allows a technician to simply input a flow cell and let the sequencer do the rest.

Both the NextSeq 2000 and the NextSeq 2000 can help research teams boost capacity and throughput for most laboratory applications while removing cost and time requirements as prohibitive constraints. But the capabilities of the NextSeq 2000 are particularly impressive. As explained by Illumina senior product marketing manager Sam Hester, the NextSeq series can accommodate massively paralleled high throughput sequencing with three flow cells. P1 can produce as many as 100 million reads, P2 can produce as many as 400 million reads, and P3 produce as many as 1.2 billion reads. While the NextSeq 1000 can employ both P1 and P2 flow cells simultaneously, the NextSeq 2000 can employ all three. This gives the NextSeq 2000 three times the output capacity of the NextSeq 1000.

Both the NextSeq 1000 NextSeq 2000 take every advantage to streamline operations and save time and money. For example, these sequencers employ dry systems that contain all fluid agents within a waterproof cartridge. This eliminates the need for wash cycles, allowing technicians to load cartridge after cartridge without the hassle and delay of cleaning.