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Korea's DNA Link Orders 10 Protons to Expand Clinical Sequencing Services

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Korean sequencing service provider DNA Link has ordered 10 Life Technologies' Ion Proton systems, which it will use to expand its clinical sequencing offerings, especially in the area of cancer.

DNA Link CEO Jong Eun Lee said the company plans to initially use the machines for exome and transcriptome sequencing of cancer samples for research purposes, and plans to develop diagnostic gene panels within the next year.

Additionally, he said the company would seek accreditation that is comparable to CLIA.

Lee said the company would initially focus on cancers that are frequent in Korea, such as lung, liver, and stomach cancers, for which it would use the pre-existing Ion AmpliSeq gene panels and also develop panels of its own.

"I'm pretty sure that we'll add more content that will be specific for the population or the disease itself," Lee told Clinical Sequencing News.

He added that the company collaborates with four large academic hospitals in South Korea that cover around half of all of the country's cancer patients — Seoul National University Hospital, Samsung Medical Center, Yonsei Severance Hospital, and Asan Medical Center.

The company expects to carry out about three to four clinical sequencing research projects per year, of about 1,000 patients each.

Lee expects to receive the machines on Dec. 20. He said he chose to go with the Proton because of the machine's fast turnaround time and its ability to do smaller-sized projects.

The company also has four Illumina HiSeq 2000 instruments, one Pacific Biosciences RS, one Roche 454 GS FLX, and one Ion Torrent PGM.

The Protons will serve a similar niche as the HiSeq 2000, except they will be geared toward projects with fewer samples or for customers that want a faster turnaround time.

For instance, when doing exome sequencing on the HiSeq, around 90 to 100 samples are needed to fill up the machine for one run, but customer projects are not often that large, so they have to wait until additional projects are available to fill the machine. "A lot of customers don't want to wait" for batch processing, Lee said. "So we can mix and match all these systems to meet the customers' needs."

While the company will initially focus on cancer, it will also look to develop gene panels for the Proton in other areas such as cardiovascular diseases like long QT syndrome and heart arrhythmias, Lee said.

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