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After a human genome collaboration, the US firm will continue its work with BGI to use optical mapping to finish de novo sequencing for more genome analysis projects.

Li Jingxiang, vice president of genomics operations for BGI, said in a statement that the SOLiDs will enable the institute to "secure sequence data for a complete whole human genome on 30x coverage that includes 100 gigabases of mapped data at an accuracy of 99.9 percent."

The acquisition will allow BGI to sequence 50 whole genomes a month, the partners said.

The study, whose results lend support to the rare variant hypothesis of disease, is part of a larger collaboration between BGI and the University of Copenhagen that will use exome sequencing to study metabolic disease.

By the end of the year, BGI expects to generate 5 terabases worth of sequence data per day. Its Hong Kong location, which handles international samples, will be outfitted with at least 100 Illumina HiSeq 2000 machines and 20 Applied Biosystems SOLiD instruments, while the Shenzhen facility, which focuses on domestic projects, will have 37 HiSeqs and between 5 and 10 SOLiDs.

Under a "statement of intent" signed last week, the two institutions plan to "initiate and develop a working relationship" and to explore areas of mutual interest in healthcare and discovery "with the common goal of creating value from the massive output of genomic information enabled by next-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing and analysis technologies."

Paired Ends: Sep 21, 2010

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Julia Dan, Paul Tu, Jurg Ott, Richard Resnick, Richard Wilson, William Efcavitch, Gregory Critchfield

The statement of intent signed today is the first step toward bringing together Merck's expertise in pharmaceutical development "with the powerful sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities of BGI," a Merck official said.

Kings College London and BGI will run epigenomics studies of 5,000 twins to understand why some identical twins with the same genes get different diseases.

The researchers plan to compare differences in methylation patterns of 20 million CpG islands between pairs of twins. The aim is to find differences that explain why many identical twins do not develop the same diseases.

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