Capillary Sequencing Still Present While NGS System Use Grows

Capillary Sequencing Still Present While NGS System Use Grows

The Sanger capillary electrophoresis method of DNA sequencing has not disappeared with the emergence and success of next-generation sequencing.  Sequencing systems (based on the early Sanger sequencing method) are still present in laboratories around the world and still make a sizable contribution to the DNA sequencing market, according to our recent study Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Markets.   The report says the global DNA sequencing market is a large market with an estimated $4.5 billion in product revenues in 2017, which are projected to continue to grow and reach approximately $8.9 billion in revenues in 2022. And nearly a quarter of revenues are earned from older systems.

Among the reasons end users told Kalorama they continued to use Sanger systems:


  • Validation and Confirmatory analysis, as opposed to initial screening
  • Broader range of conditions – inherited and acquired mutations across a large spectrum
  • Single gene analysis


Thermo Fisher’s DNA Analyzers 3730xl and 3730 systems are the most common among remaining systems. Their contribution to the market, mostly in the form of consumable purchases, made up 25% of the DNA sequencing market in 2016, is roughly 22% of the market at the present time and should drop to 15% of the market in 2022.

“There’s a bit of installed base inertia still present in the market, and systems are used for validation.  Our study of the industry demonstrates that there are still is a fair number of laboratories that are utilizing their Sanger systems, and Sangers are present alongside NGS in some cases.


Compared to Sanger sequencing, NGS technologies offer numerous advantages in terms of cost, speed, throughput, and type and quality of obtained data. These technologies increased considerably the speed and throughput of sequencing and are capable of offering both quantitative and qualitative sequence data in a matter of days or even hours, depending on the application. Besides these advantages, the cost of sequencing using NGS technologies also decreased dramatically over years, expanding the use of sequencing in many areas and allowing the development of practical applications such as clinical diagnostics and drug discovery and development.

The global sequencing market is expected to continue to grow rapidly for several more years, given that the NGS technology is becoming more accessible to users, and its commercial applications are expanding considerably in many areas, including diagnostics, drug discovery and development, agriculture, forensics and consumer genomics. In particular, the clinical diagnostics, screening and monitoring applications are expected to be a major driving force in the NGS market for many years.

Since the introduction of NGS, various technological approaches were undertaken to enhance the performance of commercial sequencers. Some technologies, including those developed by Illumina, Roche and ThermoFisher Scientific, attempted to maximize the number of bases sequenced per unit of time, thus generating large amounts of data that can aid in the elucidation of the genetics underlying various diseases. In addition, various library preparation techniques were developed to accelerate the overall sequencing process and expand the range of applications of NGS technologies.

Other technological approaches aimed at increasing the length of the sequenced DNA molecules, which aids in resolving the structure of complex regions in the genome. Single molecule sequencing technologies were among the first such approaches developed and commercialized by several companies such as Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Some of these technologies also moved away from the optical method of base detection typically used in NGS to methods such as nanopore detection, which eliminated the need for expensive detection equipment and accelerated the sequencing turnaround time. Illumina’s technology leads in the overall NGS market and is also the most sought technology by laboratories for new NGS purchases. However, in recent years, the NGS instrumentation market segment witnessed the launch of many new platforms with a broad range of capabilities, which intensified the market competition.

New products include Illumina’s iSeq100 and NovaSeq platforms, ThermoFisher Scientific’s Ion S5 and Ion Gene Studio S5, Oxford Nanopore’s GridION, BGI’s MGISEQ-2000, MGISEQ-200, BGISEQ 500 and BGISEQ 50, and Qiagen’s GeneReader system.