Asian Scientist Magazine (27 October 2022) – From October 1990 to April 2003, scientists achieved what is widely considered to be one of the greatest scientific achievements in history – the Human Genome Project. Over the course of about a decade, thousands of scientists from around the world gathered participants, improved methods, and eventually decoded almost the entire human genome.
Today, a human genome can be sequenced in about a day – which allows for more specific treatment and drug development. However, there is still work to be done. Asian genomic sequences remain severely underrepresented in global research, and international DNA sequencing technology company, Illumina, is working to develop better and more sustainable tools to support scientists as they fill these gaps.
“There are a number of genome projects going on in Asia – Japan, Singapore, India and Indonesia are all committed to this – and we are making a huge effort to help,” said Rob McBride, Senior Director of Sales, Asia Pacific and Japan.
With their latest development, the NovaSeq™ X Series, which includes the NovaSeq X and NovaSeq X Plus, Illumina has made great strides. By leveraging new technologies such as XLEAP-SBS Chemistry, NovaSeq X Plus is faster, more accurate and enables more sustainable shipping at ambient temperature. In fact, according to Illumina, the machine has up to twice the incorporation speed and three times greater accuracy compared to previous sequencers.
The result of years of innovation and development, Illumina’s XLEAP-SBS Chemistry advances have enabled the team to significantly reduce packaging waste with lyophilized or lyophilized reagents that can be shipped at room temperature. Such improvements were made in accordance with Illumina’s sustainability goals, which prioritize environmentally friendly products and research, or ‘green science’.
“Previously, our flow cell configurations for one product — which is the packaging that goes inside the sequencers and allows us to sequence — used a total of 68 tons of dry ice,” McBride explained. “NovaSeq X will result in nearly 127 tonnes of dry ice savings per year in Asia Pacific and Japan. Although dry ice is already recycled when it comes to shipping, the reduction in weight alone helps minimize our impact on the environment – that was really important to us .”
With more efficient methods, the NovaSeq X Series also comes with a reduced price—a development that could make it more accessible to middle-income countries in Asia. Apart from advancing our understanding of the Asian genome, the tools may also play a role in the fight against infectious diseases. In particular, Illumina was heavily involved in understanding COVID-19, and Illumina’s technology was used to sequence the first published COVID-19 genome.
Similar to efforts to reduce packaging with the NovaSeq X Series, Illumina has also invested in other methods to support green science and sustainability. Through donations, volunteerism and energy-saving technology, Illumina is dedicated to advancing genome research while supporting local communities and protecting the environment. Impressively, Illumina has achieved green building certifications in several key manufacturing facilities and laboratories. These labs employ a myriad of sustainable solutions, from renewable electricity and green roofs to optimizing natural light and waste systems.
Ultimately, with the NovaSeq X Series, Illumina aims to sustainably bring genomic sequencing from the bench to the bedside by developing more efficient methods that can lead to tailored and precise treatments at a faster pace.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth in the Indian and Southeast Asian markets as people discover the power of Next-Generation-Sequencing and find that it provides a more comprehensive answer for physicians and thus better outcomes for patients,” shared McBride. “It could create a world where every tumor is sequenced, every one of us has access to effective personalized treatment, and we’re never surprised by an infectious disease outbreak again. That’s what drives us to keep developing better products. “
Source: Illumina ; Image: Illumina
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