Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Miscellaneous & Disorderly Thoughts on the Eve of London Calling

It's the night before London Calling. I hope to post Thursday, but an after-meeting report won’t be until nest week - I must dash on Friday fir a slightly insane/exhilarating routing to meet my family in Florida for the holiday weekend. Exhilarating as I will have a layover in one of the ancient capitals of Europe, Lisbon, which I’ve never visited. Insane, because it’s a 12 hour overnight layover. Anyway, between the challenge of covering Oxford Nanopore's expanding reach of products and applications and being sleep-addled from taking the redeye flight I'm going to throw out a bunch of thoughts without really trying to fuse them into a coherent narrative.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Should PentaSaturn Buy An iSeq: A Hypothetical Scenario Illustrating Platform Picking

Editorial note: I wrote this in early January, then planned to slot it in after some other items.  Then life knocked me upside the head, then AGBT came along and then it was forgotten.  Once I remember it, I fretted it had gone stale. But I had put a lot of effort into it and really nothing has changed with regard to iSeq, other than it should be shipping now.  Besides, this week is London Calling and so having an Illumina-centric piece could be a bit of useful balance.  So, for your consideration:

Some of the online discussion around this January's iSeq announcement, springing from my piece or elsewhere, explores how the iSeq fits into the sequencing landscape.  In particular, how does it fit in with Illumina's existing MiniSeq and MiSeq and how does it go against Oxford Nanopore's MinION.  For example, in Matthew Herper's Forbes piece, genomics maven Elaine Mardis compares iSeq unfavorably to MiSeq in terms of cost-per-basepair.  I'm a huge believer in fitting sequencing to ones scientific and practical realities and not the other way 'round: no one platform quite fits all situations nor do even the same metrics fit all situations.  So in this piece, I'm going to illustrate what I believe is a plausible scenario in which iSeq would make sense.  Now, I have designed this to play to iSeq's characteristics and very realistically have many dials which I could turn to go in another direction.  Which I will try to note as I go along.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

PromethION Racing: A Call To The Post

I was at a get-together yesterday for bioinformatics folks associated with Third Rock Ventures companies at a local pub.  The organizer, who I've known for a number of years, was introducing me with the pleasant "Keith writes a nice blog" -- but then the barb "but he hasn't posted in a while". Ouch! But it hurts because it's true; too many excuses to not write and far too many half-baked ideas and interviews that should be out (or worse, a nearly complete post).  Since it is May, which in the U.S. is bookended by iconic racing events, I'd like to trot out an idea that has been idling for a while: PromethION Racing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mission Bio Launches Custom Panels

Back in October I covered the launch of Mission Bio's single cell platform, Tapestri.  Tapestri is a microfluidic platform which encapsulates cells and sets of barcoded primers into droplets, lyses the cells within the droplets and executes PCR on the released DNA.  Mission initially targeted hematologic cells, since they do not require disaggregation, and offered a standard panel of primes.  Around the time of AGBT, Mission launched a custom panel option and took the time to sit down with me.  Now with AACR, Mission has announced placing Tapestri at multiple major cancer centers: the NCI, Mt. Sinai, MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, St. Jude's, UCSF, U Penn and Washington University.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Small Rampage Over STAT's Movie Piece

A movie opened this weekend which, by all prior evidence and new reviews, is unbelievably silly but destined to rake in the bucks. Rampage is very loosely - as if it could be another way - based on a video arcade game. The original game’s backstory had a mysterious ray transforming people into monsters, but the movie has changed that to CRISPR. So STAT had a piece which, to my great disappointment, gave the movie’s science a near pass in a piece featuring two writers chatting . . (Note: this post has mild spoilers, though if you've seen the trailers they give almost all of this away).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Most Unfortunate Sequencing Error

If you are in the sequencing business, you'd like to get things right.  But sequencing is a form of measurement and measurement has error.  No matter how diligent and committed you are, sometimes the data doesn't break your way.  Mick Watson has a set of posts and a preprint illustrating quality issues in many deposited bacterial genomes.  Some of those are bad luck and some of those are from complacency.  Some errors radically affect biological interpretation and some don't. I'm going to detail here one of the worst cases of bad luck I've seen, where relatively small errors sat undetected for over a decade and triggered some published head scratching over their erroneous implications. So let's look at the rap sheet of this error.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Morning Visit to SeqLL

I've written in the past about SeqLL, the company which purchased all of the hard assets from Helicos after the latter's demise.  At the end of last year, CEO Elizabeth Reczek invited me to stop by for a visit and so I spent a morning having a frank discussion with Dr. Reczek and Director of Sales Lee Dalton and also was treated to a tour of their facilities.