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  • Highlights from AGBT 2024 – Part I

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    The 24th event of the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) General Meeting kicked off in Orlando this week. As usual, the meeting was jam-packed with the release of new and upgraded technologies, high-quality research presentations, and late-night festivities for networking and letting off some steam. No one article can encompass all of the great content shown at the meeting, so we’ll cover some highlights in two articles with a clear summary in the final installment.

    Technology Announcements

    Ultima Genomics
    As anticipated, Ultima announced the end of their early-access program and the official launch of their UG 100 sequencing platform several days before AGBT. Talks and posters highlighting the benefits of their instrument were mixed throughout the event. Most notably, the company boasts a low cost of approximately $100 per genome ($1/Gb). Ultima's technology leverages a flow-based chemistry that has received several upgrades to overcome previous issues with homopolymers and further reduces reagent costs and errors.

    The group also added a new workflow that supports an impressive Q60 accuracy. The workflow, termed ppmSeq (paired plus minus sequencing), includes immobilizing and concurrently amplifying DNA from matching forward and reverse strands on an emulsion bead to significantly reduce background error rates. ppmSeq is expected to improve the detection of minimal residual disease through whole genome sequencing.

    Another important aspect of the UG 100 is its continuous sequencing capabilities. Reagents are loaded as needed and not per run, and the silicon wafers used for flow cells can be loaded six at a time with two wafers run concurrently. Company representatives shared that run times are generally 12 to 14 hours, but the automated wafer handling permits continuous operation that increases the flexibility of a sequencing run. Ultima's extensive roadmap suggests future enhancements that could further decrease sequencing costs.

    N6 Tec
    N6 Tec gathered a lot of attention with the launch of their iconPCR thermocycler during the event. Standing out as more than just a typical PCR machine, this device improves PCR with 96 individually controllable wells, allowing each to run its thermal profile and halt at the desired amplification level. This feature minimizes overamplification, streamlines NGS workflows, preserves sample diversity, and simplifies most common protocols.

    Element Biosciences
    In a sponsored lunch, Element presented all of their upcoming launches for 2024, including their latest “integrated biology platform” known as AVITI24. Unlike any technology on the market, AVITI24 is built for integrated cellular analysis and allows for the simultaneous detection of up to 20 morphology features, 350 RNA targets, 50 protein/phosphorylated targets, and 100 bp of DNA sequencing (referred to as In Vitro 3D ABC Sequencing). Details about the instrument show that cells are cultured onto a slide and then loaded directly onto the instrument for multiomic analysis.

    Other updates were focused on their original AVITI instrument including the expert mode HD that allows AVITI users to produce 20 to 70 percent more reads from the kits at a lower cost. Additionally, Cloudbreak Freestyle is a new kit that eliminates library conversion steps to improve combability between library prep kits and the AVITI system. Lastly, Element introduced Cloudbreak UltraQ, a new kit with a Q50 accuracy, and the new on-flow cell library workflows with the Trinity flow cells. These innovations are designed to be backward-compatible with existing sequencers.

    Singular Genomics
    Released online several hours before the event began, Singular’s co-founders announced their new high-throughput spatial technology, the G4X Spatial Sequencer. They aimed to combine in situ spatial multiomics and NGS in one device, offering RNA sequencing, transcriptomics, proteomics, and H&E staining on FFPE tissues. This instrument enables high-throughput in situ RNA sequencing and multiplex protein imaging within tissue sections. The G4X Spatial Sequencer employs two sequencing modes to target specific RNA sequences and gene expression, enhancing the understanding of adaptive immune responses and cancer genetics at the cellular level. Additionally, it incorporates protein imaging and fluorescent H&E staining for comprehensive tissue analysis. G4 sequencer users can anticipate having the G4X as an available upgrade by the end of the year.

    Complete Genomics
    Complete Genomics revealed their new DNBSEQ-G800 sequencer. Identical in size to their G400, this mid-throughput sequencing platform can perform single-end sequencing reads up to 600bp with an expected accuracy of Q40 >90%. This instrument runs solely on their upgraded CoolMPS chemistry which is particularly suited for metagenomics and HLA sequencing applications. The group also demonstrated the capabilities of their leading DNBSEQ-T7 sequencer, which receives higher performance (Q40 data quality) with the new StandardMPS 2.0 chemistry update.

    Over the last year, BioSkryb has significantly expanded their offerings and presented several new products at AGBT. They announced new configurations for their ResolveDNA and ResolveOME kits as well as a ResolveXOME and targeted panel enrichment modules. In addition to their annual Bourbon and Bacon event, they presented several high-profile posters and presentations that highlighted their multiomics products in various disease research applications.

    Despite recently filing for bankruptcy, CSO Joe Beechum was adamant that his company was here to stay. Determined to continue ahead with their spatial technologies, NanoString showcased the CosMx Human 6K Discovery Panel. This innovation enables the measurement of over 6,000 RNA targets for single-cell spatial analysis. The whole transcriptome imaging capability of the CosMx Spatial Molecular Imager (SMI) was also displayed at the meeting, with both technologies having an emphasis on applications in understanding complex diseases like Alzheimer's and colorectal cancer.

    Twist Bioscience
    Twist Bioscience launched a cfDNA Library Preparation Kit for liquid biopsy research, specifically for enhancing the detection of tumor variants in low-quality and scarce DNA samples. The group also announced early access to the Twist Flex Prep Ultra High-Throughput Kit for NGS. This kit offers users significant cost and time savings by simplifying sample normalization and enhancing multiplexing capabilities.

    Stay tuned for more technology announcements, along with some of our favorite talks and posters in the final segment of our wrap-up on AGBT!

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