Belgium - Flemish biotechnologists have a world-wide reputation for deciphering genetic code. In order to further strengthen this leading position, two Flemish research institutes are joining forces and bringing new technology to Flanders which will record DNA 100 times faster than current methods. This is an essential asset as these DNA analyses hold the key to the decipherment and treatment of genetic disorders.
However, to record these differences efficiently, it is essential that everything moves much faster than the current technology allows. This has now become possible. So-called ‘new generation’ sequence technology has recently been developed, but it is still very expensive.
Nevertheless, VIB and UZ.-K.U. Leuven have joined forces to give Flemish scientists access to this state-of-the-art technology. Via a co-ordinated investment program, they are bringing Roche’s DNA sequence technology platform, the so-called 454 sequencing, to Flanders.What is 454 sequencing?
Determining sequences can now be done 100 times faster than the technologies which are currently being used. With the next version of the new technology, which should be available within a year, one experiment will yield yet another 10 times more sequence, so 1000 times more than now. Therefore, with the new technology, Flemish scientists will in one day be able to gather DNA data that would today take 3 years to compile. This is truly revolutionary!
The 454 sequencer will be embedded in the Genetic Service Facility of the VIB Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Antwerp under the direction of Christine Van Broeckhoven . New technology will be developed under the supervision of Jurgen Del-Favero, supporting basic research such as sequencing new, full genomes of interesting organisms (e.g. pathogenic organisms) and tracing DNA differences that cause illnesses. On top of that, there will be a large investment in translational research focusing on the development of more efficient and cheaper genetic diagnostic tests. The University of Antwerp guarantees a structural contribution towards the cost of this new investment.
Quote from VIB: “This technology will allow us to more quickly identify the molecular mechanisms of illness.”
With this investment, UZ-K.U.Leuven wishes to stimulate translational research which will, through interaction between researchers and clinicians, generate genuine innovations in the field of patient care. A powerful DNA diagnostic platform to find mutations in genes which cause, among other things, breast and bowel cancer, or are involved in illnesses such as heart, vascular illnesses and diabetes, can contribute to significant diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities.
Quote from UZ-K.U.Leuven: “This technology brings fundamental research closer to patient applications.”
Ann Van Gysel | alfa
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