We have a tradition of naming our sequencing machines after famous robots. Our latest system is called Sampo. In the Finnish national epoch compiled by Elias Lönnrot, Kalevala, Sampo is described as a refiner engine that brought prosperity to its owner. Pretty witty, huh?
Currently, we are using Illumina’s MiSeqs for diagnostic gene panels and amongst them are R2D2 and C3PO. In the movies, these robots were known to govern technological abilities that became advantageous in several tricky situations. Like their robot counterparts, the MiSeqs have proven themselves agile and flexible, and these abilities have been of great benefit in our streamlined clinical sequencing solutions. With MiSeq we have been able to provide high-quality gene tests fast and efficiently. However, in order to respond to the increasing demand for our genetic tests we now need to augment the lab’s sequencing capacity.
Sampo is a NextSeq 500 Desktop Sequencer. Illumina launched NextSeq a while back and it reads 120 gigabases (billion letters of DNA) in just over a day. That’s 15 times more than a MiSeq. In accordance with a printing experiment performed in the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics (link below), the NextSeq’s daily DNA sequence output can be quantified as an equivalent of 4300 Kalevalas. That is DNA sequencing performance of mythical proportions. With Sampo we are able to serve a significantly larger clientele as well as to radically expand the genomic scope of our gene tests.
We are currently optimizing Sampo for production, finalizing protocols, performing analytic validation studies and qualifications as well as writing standard operating procedures. Our experience so far has been highly encouraging. The system is extremely robust, well-thought-out and fast. With the upcoming chemistry update we believe that we are getting close to completing the implementation project.
In Finnish mythology, Sampo is often the reason for regional disputes but it also lends itself to tales about cosmic origins of societal changes. In Kalevala, Sampo was built by a blacksmith god called Ilmarinen (anybody else notice the spelling resembling Illumina?) but ended up being held captive by Louhi, the Queen of the North. Eventually, Sampo was destroyed in a rescue attempt and it’s shards drifted on the shores of Kalevala where they enriched the land. This can be seen as a metaphor for birth of agriculture in Southern Finland. I like to think that Sampo is again in the heart of a changing society today. Advances in DNA sequencing are unlocking our genomes and catalyzing the transformation of healthcare. With the knowledge about our genomes we are building a foundation for personalized and preventive medicine. Here at Blueprint Genetics, we are eager to get Sampo working towards that goal.
Chief Technology Officer