Monday, August 26, 2019

BCSIR launches new genome sequencing lab

  • Staff Correspondent
    Published: 2019-01-16 13:07:54 BdST

The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has launched a ‘genome sequencing lab’ to determine the reasons and variations of genetic diseases, including cancer through examining the genome sequence.

Minister for Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman inaugurated the BCSIR’s programme on Tuesday.

The special technology used in the lab will enable the experts to determine the genetic quality and structure of 48 persons within three days, said the BCSIR officials.

“The programme aims to find new cancer markers and markers of other genetic diseases. It also has a goal to identify unknown diseases,” said Osman.

He mentioned the loss of revenue that Bangladesh counts, as it has been sending the sample of genome sequencing tests abroad.

“Now, we don’t have to spend millions by doing it abroad, as the lab has been established here,” said the minister.

Previously, Bangladesh had to do the genome sequence in foreign lab to get the GI acknowledgement of jute and hilsa fish.

“Now that we have launched the lab, we can bring in the technology too,” said Osman.

The medical universities and colleges in the country will be able to treat their patients with the exact medicine applicable for them following the genome sequence, said the experts in the lab. The antibiotic can be applied flawlessly, they added.

This technology will save both time and money in the medical sector and also prevent any trading of genetic information, the BCSIR scientists said.

“The BCSIR lab will be using the latest NovaSeq 6000 machine to do the genome sequencing of cancer and other genetic diseases in the people. It will enable the experts to determine a genetic disease easily, correctly and that too in a lower cost,” Md Selim Khan, head of the lab, told

It did cost the BCSIR Tk 140 million to buy the NovaSeq 6000 machine from US company Illumina.

The programme will store the information in a micro-chip library after comparing the information on genetic disease markers from the local patients with that of the international patients to enable the experts in determining the disease easily.

“The machine can acquire 168 terabytes while one person produces 3.5-terabyte data,” said Khan.

Maksud Hossain, the head of North South University Genome Research Lab, is attached to the current project.

There will be a change in the antibiotic treatment because of the genome sequence through NovaSeq, he believes.

“We’ll be able to do the genome sequencing of bacteria beside the human genome sequence. The antibiotic treatment will be more specific,” he said.

“It’ll enable us to apply appropriate antibiotic and even personalised medicines if we can get a separate genome sequence,” he said adding at present, the physicians apply an average range of antibiotics to the patients.

As part of the primary phase, Khan and his team of six have started to work with 40 first stage breast cancer patients from the Cancer Research Institute.

They began the genome sequencing of 20 patients in their research lab on Tuesday by collecting their blood samples.

“If we can identify a unique cancer marker in them, then we’ll be able to mark the other types of cancer easily,” said Khan.

It would cost Tk 2 million to Tk 2.5 million to do a genome sequence in the research lab. But it will come down to Tk 200,000 per person if 48 patients do it together, the lab authority said.

The NovaSeq machine can do the genome sequencing of humans only and not the plants and other animals which will require separate technology.

BCSIR will establish a genome research institute and will work on plants and animals in separate units, said Khan.