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Illumina, University of Copenhagen to Study Genetic Evolution of Neuropsychiatric Disease

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina said today that it is working with the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen to study how infectious pathogens influenced the evolutionary history of certain mental and neurological disorders.

An international, multi-disciplinary team including specialists in ancient genomics, neurogenetics, population genetics, archaeology, linguistics, and brain health will create two subsets of genomics data: one consisting of 5,000 ancient human genomes, and another consisting of ancient pathogen DNA associated with human diseases. Both datasets will be made publicly available.

The research team will use Illumina's NovaSeq 6000 system with S4 flow cells to sequence up to 20 billion ancient DNA fragments every two days, Illumina said.

While Illumina scientists will not directlyparticipate in the project, the company is collaborating with the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre "to develop the best high-throughput ancient DNA sequencing process by serving as strategic advisors on their current sample and library prep, NovaSeq 2x100 sequencing, novel primary analysis methods, processing with Dragen, and storage in BaseSpace Sequence Hub," Gary Schroth, vice president and distinguished scientist at Illumina, said in a statement. "Further to that, we anticipate using our bioinformatics resources to leverage the data for analysis using Illumina's AI tools to improve base calling and variant analysis."

Eske Willerslev, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and the University of Cambridge who is part of the project, further noted in a statement that the NovaSeq 6000 "was the obvious choice for this project with its unrivaled data quality and high-throughput capabilities. While we conceived this project to explore the evolutionary origins of genetic disorders years ago, it was simply impossible to realize before Illumina's NovaSeq system came on the market."