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European Biopharmaceutical Review

The Next Big Thing in Sequencing Is Likely to Be Very Small

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was possibly one of the most outstanding scientific achievements in human history. The international collaboration spanned 13 years from 1990 to 2003, and focused unprecedented research efforts and scientific expertise on sequencing and mapping all human genes. The result was a genetic blueprint for our species and the advent of a new era in life science research. However, early techniques for sequencing genes were unwieldy and time consuming. Although the Sanger sequencing method used for the Human Genome Project was reliable and more efficient than previous approaches, it nevertheless involved a complex and painstaking effort. By extracting DNA from the raw organism and reading each part before recombining it, these earlier sequencing methods could be likened to reading a book a single word at a time.

Since 2009, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has revolutionised genomic research with powerful platforms that can sequence millions of small DNA fragments in parallel. The methods were first used to support plant virology, including genome sequencing, discovery and detection, ecology and epidemiology, replication, and transcription. Nowadays, the technology allows researchers to sequence entire genomes at speed, or focus with precision on specific areas of interest and obtain more in-depth information.

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Paul Lomax is a product manager at SPT Labtech responsible for liquid handling systems for applications in genomics. He has over 20 years’ experience in the automation of sample processing across a wide range of application areas in the academic, clinical, environmental, biotech, and pharmaceutical sectors.
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