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BGI Partners With Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai Hospital; Plans to Place First BGISEQ in North America

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – BGI today announced plans to study pancreatic cancer with a group at Johns Hopkins University and to develop a diagnostic test for preterm birth with researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

As part of the collaboration with Mount Sinai Hospital, BGI is planning to install a BGISEQ-500 sequencing instrument at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, which is located at the hospital — the first placement of the BGISEQ platform in North America. According to BGI Genomics CEO Yin Ye, the instrument will arrive within the next month or two and will likely be upgraded to the MGISEQ-2000 later on.

BGI and the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, which is part of the Sinai Health System, had signed a memorandum of understanding last year to develop a clinical test together, after receiving a C$4.6 million ($3.6 million) grant from Genome Canada under the Genomic Application Partnership program. The two-year project, led by senior investigator Stephen Lye, aims to develop a test based on a gene expression signature to predict preterm birth in pregnant women that will run on a BGI sequencer.

"We do intend to use this installation opportunity to better showcase our technology to North American collaborators," Ye said, though BGI does not yet have plans to offer the platform commercially in the US or Canada.

For the Hopkins collaboration, BGI is partnering with Lei Zheng and Christopher Wolfgang, who lead the university's pancreatic cancer program, to build a genomic and immunogenomic database of pancreatic cancer and related malignancies. They will also analyze data collected by the Pancreatic Cancer Precision Medicine Center of Excellence, focusing on biomarker discovery, validation, and neoepitope prediction related to patient survival, drug response, and resistance. BGI, through its commercial laboratories in China, will contribute sequencing services to this project to analyze patient cohorts. 

Ye declined to comment at this point on recent news reports of a planned initial public offering by MGI Tech, the technology development subsidiary of BGI that launched the MGISEQ-2000 and MGISEQ-200 sequencing platforms last year.