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Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 17:28
Chinese expertise to speed up testing
By PEI PEI in Shenzhen
Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 17:28 By PEI PEI in Shenzhen

China's genomics sequencing company BGI group is teaming up with Swedish partners to establish a laboratory capable of testing 10,000 samples a day for COVID-19.

Besides detecting COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, the laboratory will carry out scientific research, such as establishing an antibody testing platform in the lab

The company will provide high-throughput genome sequencing machines and automated sample preparation systems manufactured by MGI Tech, a subsidiary of BGI Group, to the Stockholm-based Karolinska Institutet.

Besides detecting COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, the laboratory will carry out scientific research, such as establishing an antibody testing platform in the lab.

On Wednesday, the two organizations jointly announced the cooperation, which is centered on platform construction, the improvement of testing throughput and the research and development of COVID-19 detection technology, MGI said.

The lab will use 10 machines known as MGISP-960, a high-throughput automated viral nucleic acid extraction device independently developed by MGI, to detect the virus.

The machine can test 192 samples in 80 minutes, and one person can operate three of them at the same time. This will enable an acceleration in large-scale sample detection and save valuable time in combating the pandemic.

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Professor Lars Engstrand of the Karolinska Institutet has spoken highly of the support from Shenzhen-based BGI Group.

"Thanks to BGI, the construction of a 10,000-level novel coronavirus multi-omics testing laboratory is an important step to increase testing capacity while ensuring rapid and safe testing."

In addition, a sequencing system known as DNBSEQ-T7, and invented by MGI, will also be put into use in the laboratory. Approved by the National Medical Products Administration, the system gained accreditation in the European Union at the end of last year.

"We aim to decode the genome sequence of COVID-19, study its evolutionary sources and pathogenic mechanisms and monitor its mutation on the basis of large populations," said Hou Yong, President of BGI Group in Europe.

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MGI will also cooperate with Professor Mathias Uhlen, the leader of the Human Protein Atlas Program and a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering in Sweden, to urgently develop multi-omics technology for large-scale population screening, Hou added.

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