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Washington University increases fleet of Roche Genome Sequencer FLX Systems

INDIANAPOLISThe Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine increased its sequencing capacity with an agreement to acquire five additional Genome Sequencer FLX Systems from Roche Diagnostics.

With a total of eight Genome Sequencer FLX Systems, the Genome Sequencing Center will be able to support a wide variety of projects with the 454 Sequencing technology, ranging from the sequencing of new complex genomes to the diverse microbial world to the resequencing of portions of the human genome to identify genetic variations that may be associated with human diseases. This will include using the instruments for transcriptome analysis of individual tumors, an approach that the Genome Sequencing Center has pioneered as part of its ongoing studies of acute myeloid leukemia.

We have been able to complete several projects with the GS FLX, demonstrating the systems strengths, said Richard Wilson, Director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine. We now believe that with the new improvements and the increased throughput of the instrument, we will be able to complete several projects more quickly than originally anticipated and at a substantially lower cost.

We are continuing to see the GS FLX moved into production settings due to the instruments scalability and reliability, which allows it to run continuously, said Lonnie Shoff, Senior Vice President of Applied Science for Roche Diagnostics. With more than 140 peer reviewed publications, we have a proven technology that continues to reshape the life sciences market.

In addition to the purchase agreement, the Genome Sequencing Center and Roche announced the Centers participation in the early access program for new technology advancements for the Genome Sequencer FLX system. The early access program will be featured Friday, Feb. 8 at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology Conference in Marco Island, Florida.

The Centers system improvements will include an increase in sequence read length beyond 400 base pairs and a dramatic increase in the number of sequencing reads per instrument run. Using a combination of reagent and software improvements, it is expected that the current Genome Sequencer FLX will generate more than 1 billion bases per day.

As part of the early access program, the Genome Sequencing Center plans to resequence several strains of Caenorhabditis elegans, a small nematode that has been previously used as a genetic model organism.

By sequencing several different strains of C. elegans, we will be able to not only detect the smaller genetic variations such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, but identify the larger genome rearrangements that may also contribute to phenotypes, said Wilson. With the longer 400 base pair read lengths, we can start to assemble the genomes using a de novo approach, eliminating the need to remap the sequences to a reference genome that can lead to errors.

The new Genome Sequencer FLX systems will also be used in a number of projects studying the human microbiome at the Genome Sequencing Center. These projects are leading the way to the National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project, one of the new NIH Roadmap Initiatives. The goals of these projects are to characterize the microbial organisms that live within and on the human body, and study how the communities they form contribute to health and disease. It is estimated that there are nearly a trillion microbial organisms within a healthy human adult.

The GS FLX system has become a dominant platform for sequencing microbial genomes, providing a fast, accurate, and economical way to sequence a large and diverse range of organisms, said George Weinstock, Associate Director at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine. One of the additional benefits of the GS FLX is in its application to sequencing complex mixtures of microbes, where its higher throughput will allow us to more completely identify which microbes are present and their individual abundances. This type of data is crucial for the Human Microbiome Project.


Contact: Lori McLaughlin
Roche Diagnostics

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