Next Generation Sequencing, NGS

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Published: 16 Sep 2011

Sequencing of genetic material has been a major research focus area almost since the recognition of the double helix structure of DNA. The procedure was a tedious and time consuming task and required months or even years to complete a genomic analysis. The international work at the start of the century to determine the whole human genome (Human Genome Project) sequence required new methods to be developed. An immediate development was to establish automated chemistries to perform the work that whilst still requiring time it was less directly a labour intensive process.

In the last decade further major advances have been made based on different technology to the long established sequencing methods. These innovative methods have proved to be more flexible and certainly much faster than earlier approaches. These technologies have been called Next-Generation Sequencing or NGS for short. Once NGS was introduced rapid developments took place with the most important advances now targeted at both reducing the time for sequencing to be completed and the size of the equipment with a view to achieving Genome Sequencing for less than one thousand dollars (< $ 1,000 or € 700). The drive for further research and development of NGS is from the USA but Europe is developing uses as well. 

The leading contenders are products from Illumina (MiSeq) and Life Technologies (Ion Torrent) but totally new approaches are also being sought, as for example a Nanoparticle approach from Oxford Nanopore Technologies (UK) and a hand-held device being developed by QuantuMDx (UK). The most important players might well be Illumina with Roche close behind. An indication of NGS progress across Europe with all of its applications can be seen from the country placements supplier totals as of April 2012.


Number of Product Systems


Roche 454

Illumina 2X


Illumina MiSeq

ABI Solid

Ion Torrent


Western Europe








The importance of NGS across the whole area of Biotechnology is well recognised and for Red Biotechnology (Healthcare & Medical) it is a key tool across the research base in all aspects. The use in the development of new Diagnostics has been a rapid and even an unexpected development within the last year. Although Diagnostic Services in the US will be offered, the FDA approval process will delay product availability with the result that the faster European CE mark process will give a drive to early market introduction in Europe. Some examples of applications of NGS in the Red Biotech area are:

  • U. of Manchester (UK) – Peptide Antibiotic development.
  • U. of Westminster (UK) – Identification of Anti-Viral targets.
  • Novartis Molecular Diagnostics – Companion Diagnostics
  • U of Ferrara (Italy) – Genomic Biomarker identification.
  • Siemens (Ger.) – Fully automated MDx platform using NGS.
  • Sequenta (USA), U. of Leeds (UK), U. of Ghent (Belg.), OncoMark (Ire.) – MDx tests.
  • PrimeraDx, Jain Pharma Biotech (Switz.) – MDx tests.
  • Oryzon Gernomics (Spain) – Multi-marker diagnostics.
  • Greiner Bio One – Point-of-care NGS MDx.
  • Quantu MDx (UK) – Handheld sequencing platform for Diagnostics & Research.

It is interesting to note that the major markets are clearly in Germany and the UK and at the first quarter stage of 2012 the situation was:

  • In total numbers the UK leads but has been static in 2012.
  • Germany added 15 machines in the first part of 2012: an increase of 13%.
  • The Netherlands & France each added 5 instruments in the first part of 2012, a 10% increase.  

More detailed information on NGS and the BioResearch market can be obtained from the specific regional report on Western Europe, ABA 374. The report addresses the key market dynamics, funding and drivers for the sector and is part of the ABA global Library on Life Science Products that now covers over 120 countries world wide..  Click Here