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Virginia Bioinformatics Institute installs first Roche GS-FLX genome sequencing system


BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 12, 2007 – The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech today announced that the first Roche GS-FLX™ was installed at its Core Laboratory Facility on the Virginia Tech campus.

The Roche GS-FLX is a next-generation genome sequencing system that takes advantage of 454 Life Sciences™ revolutionary sequencing technology and allows researchers to go from genome to sequence in record time. The sequence of a typical bacterial genome can be obtained in days with one person and one instrument without the need for cloning and colony picking.

“We are very excited by this new addition to our Core Laboratory Facility. The Roche GS-FLX fits nicely in the portfolio of services offered by the CLF to scientists at Virginia Tech as well as our many external customers, commented Bruno Sobral, VBI’s executive and scientific director. It brings a new dimension to our large-scale DNA sequencing capabilities.”

VBI’s Core Laboratory Facility (CLF) is a multi-user resource providing various high-throughput technologies and other state-of-the-art technology-related services. The CLF currently provides analysis platforms for DNA sequencing and genotyping, gene expression analysis, and proteomics. The addition of the Roche GS-FLX will allow researchers to accurately sequence more than 100 megabases (million bases) per 7-hour run and achieve read lengths of 200 base pairs or greater. This translates into a cost-effective, high performance solution with many applications.

Otto Folkerts, associate director of technology development at VBI, remarked “We are particularly excited about some of the new sequencing applications for the GS-FLX that Roche will be rolling out in the near future. For example, beyond genome sequencing we see a significant need for sequencing of transcriptomes, clinical samples, paired-end amplicon sequencing, and other cutting-edge uses of the technology and services. These applications also dovetail well with our current platforms.”

Clive Evans, Core Laboratory Facility Manager at VBI, commented: “The CLF’s goal is to be a one-stop, full-service shop for genomic and proteomic services. The Roche GS-FLX will provide an additional level of sequencing service to researchers who want to tackle whole genomes. The CLF can also help with gap closure and sequence verification, using more traditional sequencing methods.”

The Roche GS-FLX comes with a versatile and comprehensive software package that allows researchers to assemble the overlapping reads de novo into a consensus genome. Part of VBI’s research strengths in the areas of computational and bioinformatic resources will be utilized to complement the rapid data generation of the Roche GS-FLX.

Acquisition of the equipment was made possible through Virginia’s Commonwealth Research Initiative. The Commonwealth Research Initiative has been put in place to help universities build their research capacities and stimulate economic development.

“We have the staff, infrastructure, software systems, and hardware systems that can bring added value to researchers wishing to take advantage of the powerful features of the Roche GS-FLX. This includes data storage and analysis capabilities to make sense of the large amounts of data generated by this type of large-scale research project, Sobral concluded. This is a huge competitive advantage for researchers as they strive to make sense of their large data sets and transform them into clinical solutions.”

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has a research platform centered on understanding the “disease triangle” of host-pathogen-environment interactions in plants, humans and other animals. By successfully channeling innovation into transdisciplinary approaches that combine information technology and biology, researchers at VBI are addressing some of today’s key challenges in the biomedical, environmental and plant sciences.



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