Ion Personal Genome Machine: the DNA sequencer with an iPod dock

We're still struggling to find the speakers on this thing, but Life Technologies' new Ion Personal Genome Machine does at least have one big advantage over most other iPod docks: it's... a personal genome machine. Curiously, the company itself isn't doesn't seem to be talking up the iPod dock at all, but MedGadget reports that it can be used to explore a genome and check on the status of given sequencing run with either an iPhone or iPod touch. As for the device itself, while it's still only designed for research use and "not intended for animal or human therapeutic or diagnostic use," the company does have some pretty grand designs for the future. According to Ion Torrent founder Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, the company hopes to eventually do nothing short of doing for DNA sequencing what digital cameras did for photography. Head on past the break for the complete press release.

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Life Technologies Launches Ion PGM Sequencer
Company Initiates $7 Million Life Grand Challenges Crowdsourcing Contest

CARLSBAD, Calif., Dec 14, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:LIFE), a provider of innovative life science solutions, today announced that it has launched its Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM(TM)) sequencer, the first product to use semiconductor sequencing technology. The sequencer is shipping to select sites in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

The Ion PGM sequencer's unprecedented speed, scalability and affordability are driving strong interest in the system around the world and as a result, delivery priority will be given to customers ordering multiple units.

Ion Torrent, a business unit of Life Technologies, has invented and brought to market a fundamentally new semiconductor device that enables chemical signals to be directly translated into digital information for the first time. Ion semiconductor sequencing is a disruptive technology because it brings the entire design, fabrication and supply chain infrastructure of the semiconductor industry -- a $1 trillion investment -- to bear on the challenge of DNA sequencing. The semiconductor has radically changed every industry it has touched, from the microprocessor enabling desktop computing to the CMOS imager, enabling digital photography and replacing film cameras.

"Point-and-shoot digital cameras opened up photography to everyone because they were fast, cheap and easy -- and people saw the results immediately, so they quickly became better photographers," said Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent. "That's what Ion is doing for DNA sequencing. The Ion PGM sequencer gives you results in two hours, and it's affordable and easy to use, so researchers can make decisions in a timely way and can get to publication quicker."

The PGM sequencer augments Life Technologies' broad portfolio of DNA sequencing instruments, a market first revolutionized with the introduction of the Applied Biosystems 3700 Genetic Analyzer, which enabled the initial sequencing of the human genome. The current 3500 Series Genetic Analyzers are the gold standard for forensics, and the 3500Dx model for molecular diagnostic applications in Europe and Asia, while the SOLiD(TM) System's unparalleled accuracy makes it the ideal researchers' choice in large-scale next-generation sequencing.

Life Grand Challenges Contest

Life Technologies also announced a first-of-its-kind crowd sourcing initiative in the life sciences tools and technology industry, called the Life Grand Challenges Contest. The goal of the $7 million competition is to unlock even bigger opportunities the company is witnessing, while accelerating innovation within the life science community.

There will be seven individual challenges, each with a $1 million prize. The first three challenges are focused on Ion semiconductor sequencing. The remaining four challenges will be related to Life Technologies products and will be announced later in 2011. The three Ion challenges are to 1) produce twice as much sequence data, 2) do it twice as fast, and 3) do it with twice the accuracy. The threshold for winning is to produce results 2X better than the best internal Ion Torrent record at the time of submission.

"Life Technologies has a legacy of democratizing new technologies, and the speed and low cost of semiconductor-based technology will bring DNA sequencing into new areas we can't even imagine," said Gregory T. Lucier, Chairman and CEO of Life Technologies. "While we are on track with our internal research and development, The Grand Challenges are intended to incentivize the user communities that inevitably grow around open technology and encourage them to help accelerate discovery even further. With its ease-of-use and scalability, the Ion semiconductor sequencing technology is the natural place to start."

The judges for the first three Grand Challenges include Dr. Rothberg, Dr. Sidney Altman, who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Professor Sir Aaron Klug, who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Additional information about the first three Grand Challenges, including terms and conditions, will be released early in 2011. By registering your email address at, you will be sent the most up-to-date information on the contest when available. You can also join the conversation about the contest on Twitter: @Grand_Challenge

About Life Technologies (

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) is a global biotechnology tools company dedicated to improving the human condition. Our systems, consumables and services enable researchers to accelerate scientific exploration, driving to discoveries and developments that make life even better. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance personalized medicine, regenerative science, molecular diagnostics, agricultural and environmental research, and 21st century forensics. Life Technologies had sales of $3.3 billion in 2009, employs approximately 9,000 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries, and possesses a rapidly growing intellectual property estate of approximately 3,900 patents and exclusive licenses. Life Technologies was created by the combination of Invitrogen Corporation and Applied Biosystems Inc., and manufactures both in-vitro diagnostic products and research use only-labeled products. For more information on how we are making a difference, please visit our website:

Research Use Only

The Ion PGM sequencer, 3100 and 3500 Series Genetic Analyzers and the SOLiD System are for research use only, and not intended for animal or human therapeutic or diagnostic use. The 3500 Dx Genetic Analyzer is for IVD use in Europe and Asia, and is not available in the U.S.

Life Technologies' Safe Harbor Statement

This press release includes forward-looking statements about Life Technologies' anticipated results that involve risks and uncertainties. Some of the information contained in this press release, including, but not limited to, statements as to industry trends and Life Technologies' plans, objectives, expectations and strategy for its business, contains forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. When used, the words "believe," "plan," "intend," "anticipate," "target," "estimate," "expect" and the like, and/or future tense or conditional constructions ("will," "may," "could," "should," etc.), or similar expressions, identify certain of these forward-looking statements. Important factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are detailed in filings made by Life Technologies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Life Technologies undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.