The visitor team on a round tour through GATC´s laboratories in Cologne (f l t r: Dr Ronny Uhlig, Ivan Schlembach, Simone Schmitz, Desi Askitosari from the Institute of Applied Microbiology at RWTH Aachen University).

On a day like any other in late 2016, Mr. Ivan Schlembach logged in to his myGATC account and downloaded his Sanger sequencing results from his newest watchbox, the folder where Sanger data from GATC Biotech is delivered. The watchbox looked like any other with all the usual Sanger sequencing results, but this was no ordinary watchbox. Mr. Schlembach was in for a big surprise. He had just accessed the company’s 2,000,000th watchbox! 

To mark the occasion, the lucky PhD student in the lab of Dr. Rosenbaum at the Institute of Applied Microbiology at RWTH Aachen University received a tour of GATC Biotech’s Sanger sequencing facilities, as well as a customer appreciation gift this February. 

To join the lab tour, Mr. Schlembach had to tear himself away from his important work at the Institute. There, he is developing a consolidated bioprocess for direct platform chemical production from cellulose using mixed culture fermentation. He hopes that by obtaining new synthetic biofuels, he could make a real positive impact by counteracting the challenges associated with fossil fuel use. 

Sanger sequencing is essential for Mr. Schlembach’s work. He uses the results on a monthly basis for validation of cloned gene fragments, checking of qPCR targets and verification of the identity of his fungal strains, including Aspergillus terreus and Trichoderma reesei. Altogether, he and his labmates go through nearly 600 Sanger sequencing barcodes per year. 

Now that he has pocketed the coveted two millionth watchbox, Mr. Schlembach can look forward to many more Sanger sequencing reactions that propel him forward to the successful completion of his PhD. During this time, he would love to see next-generation sequencing (NGS) becoming faster, cheaper and comparable to Sanger sequencing. With affordable NGS packages starting at 5 million base pairs already available, it could be that his hopes come true before the three millionth watchbox is delivered.

When Richard Lumb lost his father to mesothelioma in 2009, he kept on waging the war against cancer for the sake of all others who still stood a chance against the disease. He saw genomics as a key weapon in the battle, but like many he recognized that genomics progress was not translated quickly enough into clinical practice.

Richard Lumb saw the large information gap between academia, industry and healthcare as the main obstacle to genomics integration in clinical care. To try to close this gap, he established Frontline Genomics, a media organisation whose main focus is on spreading open-access information across all channels in conventional and unconventional ways. 

One of Lumb’s methods for engaging anyone and everyone interested in genomics was the launch of Festival of Genomics events in Europe and the U.S. The events’ laid-back, yet still informative nature has increasingly caught the attention not only of notables like George Church, Craig Venter and Ting Wu, but also of healthcare providers, academia and industry members, as well as patients and their families.

GATC Biotech is pleased to support the Festival of Genomics event held today and tomorrow in London, UK. The company hopes to contribute to Lumb’s initiative by offering its genomic expertise to all interested parties. GATC Biotech is especially proud of its extensive cancer product portfolio featuring analysis of tumour-associated mutations from both tissue and blood (liquid biopsy). Armed with proven whole genome sequencing and exome sequencing capabilities, GATC Biotech is excited to find collaborators who are interested in translating genomic breakthroughs into meaningful patient progress today rather than tomorrow. 

For more information on how our diagnostics solutions can help improve disease management, visit GATC Biotech at stand 44.

The start of the New Year is a time for new beginnings like re-launching our blog. It is also perfect time for making new predictions for what might happen in 2017. Whereas industry experts have tried to foretell anything from election results to stock market trends, we thought that we would go for the hottest topics closest to our hearts: those in genomics. 

Without further ado, here is our sneak peak of the DNA trends that will likely steal the genomics spotlight for the next 365 days:

The microbiome movement

Coming off yet another breakthrough year in 2016, microbiome analysis will most certainly take centre stage again in 2017. Besides a flurry of research activity, expect viruses to nudge themselves next to bacteria in the research spotlight. Microbiota junkies should have a huge craving satisfied as new results from the US Human Microbiome Project are scheduled for this year. 

Nothing more crisp than CRISPR

This year promises countless publications that use the gene editing method as well as more clinical trials in people using CRISPR. In the coming months, we should also see a ruling on the CRISPR-Cas9 patent dispute between University of California, Berkeley and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As our genome editing power grows, more ethical discussions and possible restrictions will certainly follow. 

Zapping Zika

Plenty of research work on the Zika virus and the transmitter mosquito species should be completed in 2017 with results expected to settle some previously conflicting reports. The first results from human clinical trials testing Zika vaccines should also roll in. Another development to watch out for: We will see if millions of genetically modified mosquitoes are released in the Florida Keys this year. The mosquitoes are designed to mate with native species, producing offspring that cannot survive, hence reducing mosquito populations and possibly the spread of some viral diseases. 

Upsizing synthetic genomes

In 2010, scientists successfully transformed an artificially constructed genome of Mycoplasma mycoides into a closely related bacterial cell. Since then, scientists have worked on an even more ambitious goal, building a complete synthetic yeast genome with all 16 chromosomes. Results from project “Yeast 2.0” are expected this year.  

A surge in pharmacogenomics

Decreasing sequencing costs and increasing interest in individual treatment options will likely lead to more studies on how genetic variation contributes to drug response. More companies are expected to engage in metabolism-oriented gene testing to monitor treatment response for diseases like HIV and cancer. The pharmacogenomics trend follows a general increase of genomics use in clinical decision-making. 

Jumping ship from invasive to noninvasive cancer detection

The validation of liquid biopsy, a blood-based cancer screening test, should continue full steam ahead in 2017. Numerous studies with large patient cohorts are underway to help implement liquid biopsies into the clinic. The test is expected to revolutionise cancer management by providing a painless, affordable and quick method to help select personalised therapies based on the tumour genomes of individual patients.