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Otago-hosted research tool to provide boon for NZ genomics research

Thursday, 27 March 2014 11:16am

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Dr Aaron Jeffs of the Otago Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility uses the powerful new genomics equipment.

Powerful new genomics equipment that allows up to 800 genes to be analysed from a single cell was officially launched at the University last night.

The “NanoString nCounter Analysis System” is the first instrument of its kind to be installed in this country. Based at the Otago Genomics & Bioinformatics Facility (OGBF), its services are being offered to researchers nationwide and abroad through New Zealand Genomics Ltd (NZGL).

OGBF Facility Manager Dr Becky Laurie says the system provides a powerful new genomics tool for scientists undertaking cancer research and a wide range of other molecular biology investigations.

"The technology involves direct digital imaging of features of individual molecules, such as DNA, and uses colour-coded “barcodes” to tag genes of interest. This approach provides an accurate, highly sensitive alternative to standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, which rely upon amplifying tiny amounts of DNA," says Dr Laurie.

The nCounter system’s amplification-free processes allow researchers to measure subtle changes from small and degraded samples such as cancer biopsy tissue. The system allows customised groups of genes to be analysed together to study pathways in development or in diseases such as cancer. It can also be used to validate data gained from other types of genome analysis.

OGBF Director Mr Philip Noye says the nCounter Analysis System expands on existing services offered by OGBF; complementing the high throughput gene sequencers, microarray and bioinformatics services that underpin project design the experienced team can offer.

The launch was held at the University’s Hunter Centre. Mr Noye gave the introductory remarks and NZGL CEO Dr Tony Lough and Dr Brant Bassam also spoke. Dr Bassam is a Bio-Strategy Ltd Product Manager and gave a presentation on the new technology.