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RIKEN Omics Science Center to Expand Sequencing Facility with $17M in Government Funding

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The RIKEN Omics Science Center plans to update and expand its DNA sequencing infrastructure with $17 million in new grant funding from the Japanese government, the center said earlier this month.

Following the expansion, "OSC will assume the role of Japan's primary national sequencing center," according to a statement issued by the center.

OSC, which is based in the RIKEN Yokohama Institute and opened its doors last year, received the funding from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology to build a sequencing center for the Cell Innovation Project, which aims to study cell function by next-generation sequencing.

Another $10 million went to the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, which will serve as the data analysis center for the project, to expand its data storage and analysis capacity.

The OSC plans to use the funding to add several types of instruments. "We are not focusing on any particular sequencing platform because we are expected to provide sequencing services on demand from the users," an OSC spokesperson told In Sequence by e-mail.

However, the center, whose scientists developed a method called Cap Analysis of Gene Expression, is particularly interested in single-molecule sequencing technology in order to avoid PCR-induced bias in CAGE studies. "Therefore, we will likely purchase one or more single-molecule sequencers for this purpose," according to the spokesperson.

A year ago, OSC Director Yoshihide Hayashizaki told In Sequence that the center was thinking of acquiring a Helicos Genetic Analysis system, the first commercially available single-molecule sequencer.

Other options for single-molecule sequencing will become available next year as Pacific Biosciences plans to commercialize its real-time single-molecule sequencer during the second half of 2010.

At present, OSC has one Roche/454 Genome Sequencer FLX running Titanium chemistry, two Illumina Genome AnalyzerII systems, and two Applied Biosystems SOLiD 3 sequencers installed, in addition to three ABI 3730xl, one ABI 3100, and one Shimadzu DeNova Sanger sequencer.

Under the Cell Innovation Project, seven research programs will focus on different aspects of cellular function, such as in the context of cancer and developmental biology. They will closely collaborate with the OSC sequencing center and the National Institute of Genetics data center under the program.

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