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Pacific Biosciences, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm best known for its niche approach to DNA sequencing, on Tuesday announced plans to launch a new product that will put the company in direct competition with genomics juggernaut Illumina.

The new DNA sequencer, dubbed Onso, reads the genome in small pieces and uses software to stitch that information together. So-called short-read sequencing is the mainstay of Illumina, which controls 80% of the current market. But PacBio, which until now has focused on long reads, a more specialized approach, believes it can eat into Illumina’s market share.


CEO Christian Henry told STAT that Onso’s high-quality data and pricing would make it competitive against a comparable Illumina product, the NextSeq 2000, which is listed at $335,000. The PacBio instrument will sell for $259,000. It can read around 100 billion to 150 billion DNA base pairs in a run, and the company plans to start taking orders early next year and to start shipping sequencers in the first half of 2023.

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