Microfluidic MEMS aid rapid Covid-19 sequencing

March 17, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Microfluidic MEMS aid rapid Covid-19 sequencing
Process development and chip production foundry SkyWater Technology Inc. (Bloomington, Minnesota) is supplying microfluidic MEMS to MGI Tech Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen, China) for use in Covid-19 testing and research.

MGI, is part of the BGI Group, the world's leading supplier of genomic sequencing services, also based in Shenzhen.

Sequencing technology is critical to identifying mutations of viruses and tracking the spread of infections through a population. Under emergency measures introduced to address the Covid-19 pandemic China's National Medical Products Administration has approved the use of MGI's DNBSEQ-T7 high-throughput DNA sequencing system for Covid-19 applications.

The DNBSEQ-T7, which started shipping in 2019, has been described as a life science supercomputer. The DNBSEQ-T7 is the highest throughput DNA sequencer yet developed. It is the first four-chip sequencing platform capable of generating 6Tbytes of data per day, and completing up to 60 whole human genomes per day.

The coronavirus genome is based on RNA rather than DNA but the DNBSEQ-T7 can be used for sequencing-based Covid-19 detection and identification of potential anti-viral agents and vaccines.

MGI has a manufacturing plant in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, where MGI developed its NMPA-approved DNBSEQ-T7 sequencing systems.

Skywater said it has been working for MGI for several years and has supplied microfluidic MEMS flowcells to its parent BGI. This component is now the basis for one of the consumbles in the sequencing kit for the DNBSEQ-T7 system.

Next: US testing

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