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BGI, Czech Association Establish Prenatal Diagnostic Testing Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – BGI subsidiary BGI Health and the Association of Czech genetic centers announced on Wednesday the founding of the companies' first test center focused on prenatal diagnostics in Europe.

The joint facility in Prague will pair each partner's expertise, allowing for quick and easy access to fetal screening services in the Central Europe region, they said. The lab will be the first to offer healthcare and reproductive genetic testing services in Europe, supporting the genomic research facility that BGI created in Copenhagen in 2012. It also will provide BGI the chance to create relationships with national research groups and government, which could open the way to further establish joint genomics education, investments, and job opportunities, BGI and the Association said.

The center will be equipped with Life Technologies’ Ion Proton sequencers. Ning Li, director of BGI Europe, said that a non-invasive prenatal test called NIFTY will be offered by the new facility. BGI partnered with GENNET last year to offer the test in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

"For the Czech Republic, this investment is not only about the €2 million [$2.6 million] and tens of new job positions for university alumni in the field of biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics, but also an exceptional opportunity for further development of local science and research activities in genomics and life sciences," Petr Ocko, acting CEO of the CzechInvest agency, said in a statement.

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