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World-leading cancer researchers become first in the UK to receive latest genome sequencing technology

13 Jul 17

UK scientists now have access to a new kind of next-generation genome sequencing machine which could revolutionise their research to defeat cancer.


The high-tech genome sequencer – the Illumina NovaSeqTM 6000 – has been unveiled at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. The world-leading cancer research institute is the first in the UK to access the technology.


The machine is expected to dramatically increase the amount of sequencing that scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) can carry out and help them to more quickly read the genetic code within tumours.


This kind of information can then be used in the development of diagnostic tests or to help find new ways to target the tumour’s weaknesses with drugs.


By increasing the ICR’s ability to do this kind of genome sequencing in-house it should also reduce costs for the ICR. These savings can then be ploughed into further research to defeat cancer.


The manufacturer, Illumina, claims that the NovaSeq instrument is the most powerful sequencer it has ever launched and believes it will revolutionise the study of the genetics in cancer.


Next-generation sequencing allows researchers to sequence multiple DNA or RNA samples at the same time, making it much quicker and cheaper than the older Sanger sequencing techniques. It has revolutionised genomics and molecular biology research.


The NovaSeq instrument can decode the entire DNA sequence of 16 genomes at 30x in 40 hours based on running two S2 flowcells, and later in the year a new flowcell will allow sequencing of up to an estimated 24 whole genomes at 30x per flowcell, at a fraction of the cost previously required.


Across a working week at the ICR, this new sequencer will immediately allow researchers to get the genetic sequence of up to 96 whole genomes or 256 exomes. With older instruments, only a third of that number could be sequenced in that time. The ICR’s Tumour Profiling Unit which will house the machine expects a twelve-fold increase in its capacity for sequencing genomes.

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