Entering the Next Generation of DNA Technology

4 May 2012

Imagine the day when your children's birth certificates come with a memory card containing all the information about their medical present and future. What disease risks do your little ones face? Which types of infections do you need to be especially mindful about? If heart disease runs in the family, which statin will work better for them, and at which age will that risk be higher? If they have a complex, obscure genetic defect, can any research be done to find a cure?

Twenty years ago, these were the kind of science fantasies dreamed by the pioneers of DNA sequencing technology, who spent about £10 billion over a dozen years to sequence a single human genome. Memory card DNA birth certificates suddenly don't seem that far-fetched any more.

Fast-forward another 20 years, and the prospect of that child using genetic information on a daily basis to use biotechnology to improve his or her lifestyle might not be so far-fetched.

Today, behind these captivating technological advances of log-scale cost reductions and throughput refinements occurring in matters of months, lie unprecedented opportunities in any scientific discipline engaging in biotechnology. From environmental science to cancer management and from process development to drug approval, the revolutionary technology of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS, or Deep Sequencing) has something to offer everyone. However, the almost magical technological complexity and data volume challenge can be daunting to first time users.

The Biotechnology Group hosted a one-day symposium on 3 May 2012, 'What can DNA do for you? DNA technologies and applications' to discuss the promise of NGS and DNA technology for the biotech, industrial, agri-food and clinical sectors.

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