Genomic Sequencing Could Become Household Term with New Hand-Held Device
Within five years, consumers may begin using a device smaller than a flip phone to monitor the air, test their food or diagnose what germ caused an upset stomach. And the root of this capability points to what now is only for scientists — genome sequencing.
That’s the message from a team of scientists from the U.K. and Canada teaching a weeklong class to about 40 fellow researchers from around the U.S. at Texas A&M AgriLife Research in College Station.
This course, a sort of “nerd summer camp for adults,” was different, organizers said. Rather than instructing the art and science of genomics and bioinformatics on the multi-million-dollar equipment typically in labs, the class used the minION — a sequencing system made by Oxford Nanopore Technology. Basically, it’s a hand-held device into which a sample is placed and then within minutes the sample’s genome is translated into one’s laptop.
“The mobility of this system is what is attractive about this device,” said Dr. John Tyson, a minION instructor and research associate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
The device has already been used to battle ebola in the remote jungles of Guinea and to sample both mosquitoes and humans for the presence of Zika virus in northeastern Brazil, according to minION instructor Dr. Nick Loman, independent research fellow at the University of Birmingham, England.
Knowing what pathogens are present early on, Loman said, can help scientists begin to work more toward surveillance and thus prevention rather than reacting to issues after they become problems.
The minION represents an enormous leap for researchers who need a highly portable system for a couple of reasons, according to Dr. Charlie Johnson, director of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Service with AgriLife Research in College Station. First, much research takes place in remote fields where larger equipment cannot be used. And second, the faster the results come, the more quickly they can be translated into actions.
“That being said, this type of portable technology is not a replacement for our workhouse enterprise-level Illumina sequencing systems, which can do the equivalent of 48 human genome projects in 48 hours,” said Johnson, noting that the first human genome project took 13 years. “Rather, the minION is another fantastic tool in our genomics tool belt.”
“Training others to use this type of technology helps empower research,” said Johnson, who co-hosted the event with Dr. Robert Burghardt and Ashley Gustafson from the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s easier to teach 250 students how to use a technology than to try to individually handle that many projects. And in agriculture, at least, our ultimate goal is to feed mankind, so this helps further our discoveries toward that end.”
Indeed, though the technology ultimately may be used to glean typical household information, the testing ground has largely been agriculture, natural resources and medicine, Johnson noted.
Researchers attending the training, in fact, were required to bring actual samples of their current projects to use while learning the technology. Included in the mix were studies on lions, bears, cats, Alaskan ice cores, manatees and various insects such as fleas and scorpions. Finding out what makes those things tick, so to speak, can lead researchers to solutions.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Dr. Mick Watson, minION instructor and head of genomics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. “The technology is coming to a point where consumers will be able to use it in three to five years.”
Watson also stressed the importance of farmers being able to use the low-cost technology on farms to determine the presence of pathogens before they do excessive damage to crops and livestock.
It’s about rapid diagnosis so the correct treatments can be provided, and that in turn slows the rate of resistance to pesticides and medicine, he said.
“Often a doctor will prescribe a general antibiotic to make you feel better without knowing if it is the most effective on a particular bacteria, or if what you have is actually a virus,” he said. “Being able to quickly get the genomic sequence of a germ rather than wait for a culture to grow in a lab could lead to the ability to use a more narrow spectrum of antibiotics, which would limit the rate of antibiotic resistance.”
There also are some slightly more “off-the-wall” potential uses for the technology, such as quality control for craft brewers, the team noted. The conclusion of the weeklong course was a field trip to Jester King Brewery in Austin, which boasts of its use of “natural surroundings and local agriculture.” There, the newly equipped student researchers and the team collected yeast samples to run on the minIONs. Knowing what yeasts are present can help a brewery know how to manage the flavor of its content, Watson explained.
The Latest on: Genomic sequencing
- Immune Repertoire Sequencing Market to Surpass US$ 185 Million by 2026 | Synthesis And Healthcare Experts Reviewson August 17, 2019 at 8:05 am
Major players operating in the global immune repertoire sequencing market include Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., Illumina Inc., ArcherDX, Inc., Roche Holding AG, Pacific Biosciences, CD Genomics, ...
- 2019 National Population Genomics Strategy and Implementation Reporton August 16, 2019 at 5:01 pm
Additionally, many regulatory bodies and consortiums are playing vital roles in regulating and standardizing the ongoing population-based sequencing initiatives. Population Genomics holds immense ...
- U.K. Firm Creates 'Operating System' To Handle Massive Genomic Patient Data Setson August 16, 2019 at 11:52 am
Digital doctors of the future There’s some inevitability here, i.e. we need to brace for the increasingly widespread adoption of human genome sequencing and -- putting data privacy arguments aside for ...
- $11.7 Billion Plant Genomics Market - Global Forecast 2025on August 16, 2019 at 5:34 am
DUBLIN, Aug. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The "Plant Genomics Market by Objective (Extraction, Sequencing, Genotyping, Gene Expression, MAS, and GMO-trait Purity Testing), Type (Molecular Engineering ...
- Next generation sequencing (NGS) Market 2030 by Product & Services | 10x Genomics, Becton, BGI, Illumina, Agilent Technologieson August 16, 2019 at 4:05 am
Aug 16, 2019 (The Expresswire) -- Next generation sequencing (NGS) Market by Product & Services (Pre-Sequencing Products & Service, Sequencing Services, Data Analysis, Storage, and Management), ...
- Top U.S. medical centers roll out DNA sequencing clinics for healthy (and often wealthy) clientson August 16, 2019 at 1:41 am
Genomic sequencing programs that cater to apparently healthy adults have been started in the past few years at the Mayo Clinic; the University of California, San Francisco; and the HudsonAlpha ...
- Characterizing genetic and epigenetic influencers of CRISPR-Cas genome-wide nuclease activity using CHANGE-seqon August 16, 2019 at 12:41 am
and describe a novel method called Circularization for High-throughput Analysis of Nuclease Genome-wide Effects by sequencing, or CHANGE-seq. Using CHANGE-seq, we can define both genetic and ...
- Whole-exome and whole-transcriptome sequencing of canine mammary gland tumorson August 14, 2019 at 2:21 am
Accordingly, to provide a useful resource for genomic analysis, we produced WES and WTS sequencing data from 197 and 158 dogs with CMTs, respectively. Among them, 185 of 197 of the WES (DNA-Seq) and ...
- Texas A&M scientists begin southern pine beetle genome sequencingon August 13, 2019 at 12:13 pm
COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M AgriLife Research is leading research to stop the southern pine beetle in its tracks, or at least be able to predict what is causing outbreaks of the tree-killer outside of ...
- Improving the accuracy of long-read genome sequencingon August 13, 2019 at 5:50 am
A team of researchers from institutions in the U.S., Germany and China has developed a way to improve the accuracy of long-read genome sequencing. In their paper published in the journal Nature ...
via Google News and Bing News