At J.P. Morgan, PacBio Updates on Impending Revio, Onso Shipments

January 13, 2023

By Allison Proffitt 

January 13, 2023 | In his second J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference address on behalf of Pacific Biosystems—albeit his first in-person event—CEO Christian Henry gave a summary of 2022 numbers and updates on the new sequencing platforms the company announced in October: the Revio long-read platform and the Onso short-read platform.  

PacBio reports an install base of more than 1,000 sequencers in 40 countries, Henry said. About half of those are Sequel II and IIe platforms. “This [Sequel II/II] install base is a really important number to us because it gives us the initial bolus of customers to go after with our new Revio platform,” Henry pointed out. The company realized $128M in revenue in 2022 (preliminary estimates) and saw a record year for consumables, with about $60M in revenue.  

Henry said the company spent 2022 building two new sequencing platforms—each based on its own, unique chemistry. The Revio long-read platform is based on PacBio’s existing HiFi sequencing, and the Onso short-read platform is based on sequencing-by-binding (SBB) chemistry that PacBio acquired with Omniome in July 2021. “We definitely put a big task in front of us,” Henry said of the year’s efforts. 

Neither new platform has begun shipping yet, and the numbers Henry quoted this week aligned with the ones previewed at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in late October. Both platforms are slated to ship within the first half of 2023, making this a pivotal year for PacBio’s company direction.  

Revio HiFi Platform 

Henry devoted most of his time to the Revio long-read, HiFi platform, calling it “revolutionary.”  

The primary unit of sequencing in the instrument is the 25 million ZMW SMRT cells—up from eight million on the Sequel IIe. Four SMRT cells are combined in each run letting, “customers interrogate up to 100 million single molecules simultaneously,” Henry said. The four cells are independent, he pointed out. “They allow our customers to run, for example, an experiment with a tumor [sample], a normal [sample], a gene expression experiment, and then have an extra flow cell if they want to, perhaps, do a deeper look at the tumor.”  

With no nitrogen requirement and 50% less consumables, the ease-of-use of Revio is improved over the Sequel IIe system, he said. And the system can be run continuously, with 24-hour cycle times that allow researchers to load the next run while the current one is underway.  

Compute has also improved significantly over the Sequel IIe system, Henry said. “We’ve created an entirely new architecture using GPUs and this will allow us to even extend the technology further in terms of throughput into the future.” PacBio’s collaboration with Google’s DeepConsensus improves base-calling accuracy. “That’s integrated on the system itself,” Henry pointed out. “You don’t have to take any of the data off the system to make the calls.” The platform is also affordable, Henry said, coming in at less than $1,000 per genome and capable of 1,300 genomes per year at 30x coverage.  

Since announcing Revio in late October, PacBio has had pre-orders for 76 platforms shipping to 43 customers, Henry reported. The bulk of orders will serve human genomics and plant and animal sequencing, but Henry highlighted the oncology applications planned for the new platforms as well. Pre-orders thus far are predominately from existing customers, Henry said, but the pipeline of interested customers includes nearly 30% new customers.  

“For the most part, those new customers are already using short-read technology and they want to move projects to long-read technology,” Henry said. He doesn’t foresee those customers abandoning short read, but instead predicts users having several instruments for different applications.  

In the final stages of verification before shipments begin in “a few weeks”, Henry said accuracy is consistently very high. “In fact, some of our customers who have run samples internally are seeing the best sequencing data they’ve ever seen—at least from us—with respect to some of their more complicated genomes.”  

He highlighted three customers doing larger-scale genome projects. Mohammad Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dubai is launching a rare disease and cancer genome product powered exclusively by PacBio platforms. The Wellcome Sanger Institute has ordered several Revio platforms for the Darwin Tree of Life program. And Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands is using PacBio platforms to solve “genetic mysteries” and hopes to ramp up those efforts with Revio.  

Onso Short-Read Platform 

Henry’s update on the short-read sequencing-by-binding (SBB) platform, Onso, also generally mirrors the numbers and timelines predicted in October. The Onso platform will support 400-500 million reads per run and offer 200 and 300 cycle kits enabling paired and single-end reads. At least 90% of the bases are Q40 or 99.99% in accuracy.  

“The beta program is going quite well, and we have customers like the Broad and Corteva [Agriscience] running experiments,” Henry said. “We’re getting feedback; we’re incorporating that into our development. You’re seeing the high accuracy that we’ve been touting at the customer sites.”  

The company is taking orders now, and shipments are expected in the second quarter of 2023. The platform will be priced at $259,000, which comes to about $15 per gigabase. Henry did caveat that. “I want to make sure people understand: with higher accuracy we need less coverage. So $15/g in terms of price isn’t the same with all other customers. You have to dive into thinking about the price-per-answer rather than how much sequencing you’re going to throw at the problem,” he said.  

The company is certainly thinking about more new products. Henry hinted at new products leveraging Revio’s innovation targeting various parts of the market. But for 2023, PacBio’s highest priorities will be the successful launch and rapid adoption of Revio, demonstrating Onso’s accuracy advantages and a second successful launch in 2023, and expanding research partnerships.  

“This is truly a community that’s driving the pace of innovation and insight into biology. And we want to be at the center of that community.”