Element Biosciences CEO lays out genome sequencing strategy

SAN DIEGO — Companies racing to read the genome accurately, quickly, and affordably have hit a snag recently, with several firms reporting that their growth has slowed, stalled, or reversed. Upstart Element Biosciences is hoping it can succeed despite the challenging market conditions.

The San Diego firm launched a $290,000 sequencer, dubbed Aviti, in March 2022 and now has 150 instruments installed in more than 25 countries, according to a sales update Element shared with STAT. The modest growth comes at a time when some other players are struggling. Singular Genomics announced layoffs of 20% of its workforce earlier this year after the lackluster launch of its own sequencer. And Pacific Biosciences recently laid off nearly 200 employees after reporting disappointing first-quarter sales.

Element still has a long way to go in its bid to rival Illumina, a genomics giant that dominates 80% of the sequencing market and has more than 23,000 instruments in use around the world. That includes the NextSeq 2000, a $335,000 sequencer with a similar output to Aviti. Element is betting its blend of accuracy and a more moderate price point can help it carve out a niche of academic and biopharma customers.

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