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Early Returns in NGS Survey


Users want desk top sequencing, better data transfer.

By Allison Proffitt

June 8, 2011 | Early results are in from Bio•IT World’s industry study on the future of next-generation sequencing (NGS). The extensive, three-phase study began in March at CHI’s X-Gen Conference in San Diego. Together with a phase II online survey, more than 350 usable responses from researchers, data analysts, executives and technology professionals involved in NGS have been collected. Results include multiple choice answers and thousands of write-in comments.

Not surprisingly, most respondents report owning Illumina NGS platforms, followed by Life Technologies and Roche/454. NGS services are frequently used. The NGS market will rapidly grow over the coming 5-10 years. Some other early trends have already emerged:

  • Computer infrastructure: One third of respondents believe current computer infrastructure is inadequate to support their NGS needs. 38% state they have not accounted for unforeseen infrastructure costs in NGS.
  • 57% feel cloud-based NGS is growing.
  • Overall, respondents were reasonably satisfied with current NGS software products in areas including genome assembly, single-molecule sequencing, sequence data management, comparative analysis, LIMS, and pipelines. Comments suggest that visualization software needs the greatest improvement.
  • By a clear margin survey respondents indicated that currently available NGS systems are not centralized enough to support the growing demands of NGS.
  • Overwhelmingly, respondents prefer open-source NGS software solutions to commercial, but most indicated that they would pay for a commercial offering if they were confident it could support their needs.
  • Data transfer: Large data file transfer remains a huge problem according to respondents with 69% reporting it can hurt the growth of NGS.
  • Only 21% of respondents said they were “very” concerned over security issues with cloud-based solutions; 33% expressed some concern.
  • Two thirds respondents are eager to see platforms enabling desktop sequencing.
  • 65% indicated that if biotechnology companies can eventually patent genes it will slow NGS growth
  • More than half feel NGS is not adequately integrated with biology today.

The final phase of the study will take place this month, and will follow up on trends revealed in phase I and II. Results from the three surveys will be compiled into a master report revealing the current state of the NGS industry, trends and projections. 

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