• by bcarlson@marketresearch.com
  • October 3 2013

Don’t Count Out Capillary Systems Yet

Don’t Count Out Capillary Systems Yet

Despite the adoption of next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) systems, Kalorama Information says that older capillary DNA sequencing systems remain in labs and are used consistently. More than one out of every four sequencers owned by labs surveyed is still a Sanger or capillary type system, and almost all are made by Life Technologies/Applied Biosystems. And those labs that own them are still employing them at a fairly stable rate. The findings were made in a new Kalorama Information report, “Next Generation Sequencing Trends,” based on a survey of 110 labs performing sequencing.

Capillary or Sanger systems use an older technology and operate at a much lower capacity and speed compared to the newer systems and chemistries introduced in the last several years. The most common of the capillary systems are the Life Tech/ABI 3730xl and the 3730, which together make up 60% of the capillary systems used by labs in the survey. The report suggests that those systems aren’t on the wish lists of many labs, but those labs that have them can keep them going for many years.

“Capillary systems are still in use, for most labs at roughly the same amount on a year-to-year basis, although they aren’t being purchased as often currently,” said Justin Saeks, the report’s author. “They still have a role for sequencing individual genes or a few genes at a time, or also for validating the results from NGS. “

According to the report, this doesn’t change robust predictions for the continued penetration of NGS. The survey found interest in next generation sequencing continues to grow, but does disproportionately benefit a particular company and keeps them competitive in the market in ways other analyses of the sequencing market may have overlooked. Life Tech/ABI also benefits from the longevity of its capillary systems, says Saeks, because they are selling most of the consumables used in these systems, while in NGS, the consumables market is more competitive. This is a factor that is important in understanding the competitive situation in the marketplace for sequencers.

The report highlights that some of the continued usage of capillary systems has been as a validation step for NGS in clinical applications. For example, when a patient sample receives a positive diagnosis from NGS, capillary sequencers are often used to confirm those results. The higher cost per base is offset by the higher quality data, and may also be mitigated if only one or a few newly diagnosed mutated gene(s) needs to be sequenced for validation purposes. Capillary sequencing continues to be essentially a gold standard, after its long history of accuracy and cost-effectiveness for regulated patient samples.

“A similar situation might be the history of printing. With large-scale publishing, people now use much faster systems to crank out thousands at a time at a satisfactory quality. But for things like important events or invitations, people still go to the old-fashioned manual printing press because of the smaller scale and its reputation of increased quality,” said Saeks. “Any time there is a patient with a positive diagnosis from NGS, the doctors really want to make sure the results are as accurate as possible before that diagnosis potentially has dramatic effects upon the patient’s life.”

The report, “Next Generation Sequencing Trends,” provides model ownership statistics, cross-ownership data by brand, information on applications, future plans, regional ownership data and more. The report is based on a telephone consultation of 110 laboratories which was carried out from April to June of 2013, with the majority in the latter portion. The survey effort targeted labs likely to be doing, or likely to be considering, applications of sequencing in either diagnostic or clinical research settings. More information can be found at http://www.kaloramainformation.com/Generation-Sequencing-Trends-7702505/.

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