G42 Healthcare’s Biogenix Labs has become the first certified laboratory in the Middle East to conduct sequencing of SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19), enabling the tracking of variants of the virus and the identification of new ones.

Using Oxford Nanopore technology, the company will now be able to tell which strain of the virus has infected those who have tested positive, which will help contain transmission, according to a press release.

Biogenix has received certification from UK-based Oxford Nanopore, which produces technology allowing scientists to sequence DNA, and says the technology is ‘highly scalable’ and allows fast turnaround times.

The company will be using Nanopore’s ARTIC Midnight protocol which undertakes whole genome surveillance.

Dr Fahed Al Marzooqi, chief operations officer, G42 Healthcare, said: “The ARTIC Midnight Kit will allow us to deliver high-quality SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing faster, with more flexible workflows and cost optimisation.

In the long term, Oxford Nanopore sequencing unlocks many possibilities for the analysis of other pathogens, microbial surveillance, and larger public health impact that we look forward to exploring.”

Biogenix was set up in 14 days to cater to the new need for COVID-19 testing in early 2020 and is part of the 4Humanity Phase III inactivated vaccine trials, the company said.

The laboratory now also offers molecular and genomic diagnosis for insights into rare disease treatments.

Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO, Oxford Nanopore, said: “It’s great to see nanopore sequencing being provided as a service by the G42 Healthcare’s Biogenix Labs to enable rapid scale up of their SARS-CoV-2 sequencing efforts.

“The team have already made a huge contribution to the pandemic response and this certification will enable them to continue to gain rapid insights to inform public health decision makers.”

Abu Dhabi sovereign investment company Mubadala, announced in November 2020 that it was becoming an investor in Group 42 (G42).

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)


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