Asian Scientist Magazine (Oct. 27, 2022) – From October 1990 to April 2003, researchers accomplished what is widely considered one of the greatest scientific feats in history—the Human Genome Project. Over the course of roughly a decade, thousands of scientists from all over the world gathered participants, improved methods and eventually decoded almost all of the human genome.
Today, one human genome can be sequenced in about a day—providing the opportunity for more specific treatment and drug development. However, there is still work to be done. Asian genomic sequences remain highly underrepresented in global research, and international DNA-sequencing tech company, Illumina, works to develop better and more sustainable tools that support scientists as they fill these gaps.
“There are a number of genome projects underway in Asia—Japan, Singapore, India and Indonesia are all committed to this—and we’re making a huge effort to assist,” shared Rob McBride, Senior Director of Sales, Asia Pacific and Japan.
With their newest development, the NovaSeq™ X series that comprises the NovaSeq X and the NovaSeq X Plus, Illumina has made great strides. By harnessing new technologies like XLEAP-SBS Chemistry, the NovaSeq X Plus is faster, more accurate and enables more sustainable ambient-temperature shipping. In fact, according to Illumina, the machine features up to double 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 advancements have allowed the team to significantly reduce packaging waste with freeze-dried, or lyophilized, reagents capable of being shipped at room temperature. Such improvements were made in line with Illumina’s sustainability goals that 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,” explained McBride. “The NovaSeq X will result in nearly 127 tons of dry ice savings per year across Asia Pacific and Japan. Even though 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 cost—a development that could make it more accessible to middle-income countries in Asia. Aside from advancing our understanding of the Asian genome, the tools could also play a role in fighting 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, volunteering and energy-saving technology, Illumina is dedicated to advancing genomics research while supporting communities and protecting the environment. Impressively, Illumina has achieved green building certifications in several core manufacturing facilities and labs. These labs adopt 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, developing more efficient methods that can lead to tailored and precise treatments at a quicker pace.
“We are seeing a lot of growth in Indian and Southeast Asian markets as people uncover the power of Next-Generation-Sequencing and find that it provides a more comprehensive answer for doctors 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 are never surprised by an infectious disease outbreak again. That’s what’s driving us to continue developing better products.”
Source: Illumina ; Image: Illumina
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