A Closer Look at Next-Generation Sequencing Technology

Admittedly, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a generic, broad term that is used here to describe a very complex technique within the realms of genetics and genome studies. The average person likely has never heard of such terminology or techniques, but the technique is extremely relevant to a person’s well-being. Medicine is set to benefit greatly from the fruits of this advanced technology that is shaking up many fields within clinical microbiology.

The term NGS is a blanket term that encompasses all of these techniques that can sequence entire genomes from nucleic acid samples such as RNA or DNA. This is a high-level explanation of what is happening within NGS techniques without digging into the weeds of molecular biology.

However, this simple terminology masks what is an amazing genetic process. The field of molecular biology is experiencing a rapid development of many exciting new tools such that an entire subfield has been created called “Genomics” within molecular biology.

This field is concerned with the lofty goal of mapping and even one day editing genomes. Within this field is a diverse range of molecular techniques that are performed by automated NGS machines. These machines can perform large numbers of parallel operations to map genomes at incredible speeds.

NGS Technology in Use Today

This broad and versatile technique is proving to be most promising in the field of medicine and the treatment of difficult, elusive diseases like cancer. The key issue is understanding the building blocks and codes of life. NGS techniques are used to study genomes with the hope of gaining insights useful for medical interventions.

NGS technology is instrumental in developing new, novel treatments in the field of immunotherapy. This research focuses on how to finely tune the body’s immune system to more effectively attack cancer at a cellular and tissue level. Specifically, the discussion will center around a few different areas related to cancer research to highlight how NGS technologies are being used to very practical ends.

Epigenetics studies the reproduction of cells and the mechanics of how genetic information is copied on a cellular level. This copying/replication process is being studied using NGS techniques with the lofty goal of interrupting the process to stop cancerous tumor growth in its tracks.

Chromosomal abnormalities are another source of cancerous tissue growth. NGS techniques enable the study of these very small molecular abnormalities to understand how cancers begin as well as the chain of causalities that leads to cancers.

NGS techniques are also used in the generation of something called a personalized “Polygenic Risk Score,” which is tabulated for specific diseases. This rather complex score is calculated from genomes tagged as “risk alleles” for specific diseased traits.

The polygenic risk score can customize medicine for individuals most at risk of certain diseases. It can make clinical trials more effective because the sample populations can be grouped to determine the effectiveness of a particular therapy in populations judged to be most at risk. It can also provide real-time, customized risk assessment for individuals to understand their risk for certain hereditary diseases.

NGS Machines and Manufacturers

Some notable manufacturers of equipment capable of these advanced NGS sequencing techniques are BD, Illumina, 10X Genomics, Thermo-Fisher, Roche, and Qiagan.

One very interesting company called Ultima has recently made big headlines, claiming that its NGS sequencing technology can sequence an entire human genome for $100 and has set an aggressive vision to improve on this figure. 

MISUMI configurable components power dozens of specialized medical laboratory equipment including those in the NGS field. Our configurable machine catalog includes all the components you need to design and build automated medical laboratory equipment such as the ones listed below.

To learn more about our configurable components capabilities for the Medical and Lab Automation industry, click here.

About the Author

Geoffrey Green

Geoffrey Green is currently an industry segment manager for the Medical Industry at MISUMI. His role involves developing strategies for how MISUMI's offering of products can be utilized in providing solutions for medical automation. Prior to his role as industry segment manager, Geoffrey worked as a sales engineer at MISUMI. In his sales role, he served the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and focused entirely in the medical industry. During this 4 year period, Geoffrey became an expert assisting customers with their medical automation designs. Before taking on his roles at MISUMI, Geoffrey has worked in the plastic bearing, robotics, and solar industries and received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado.

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