Genomics Services and COVID-19
Source BioScience is an internationally recognised provider of pathology services to the healthcare and biopharma communities. We are proud to be supporting PHE and the NHS in their SARS-CoV-2 testing program, and are now offering PCR-based testing for employees of public and private organisations working at the front-line of this pandemic crisis, as well as patients and others at risk.
The rapid, accurate, identification of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus, in which Source BioScience is pleased to play a significant role, is a major step forward. But it is only the first part of a complex algorithm that will hopefully guide us through the current pandemic; as individuals, as a nation, and as a global community.
The development of treatments and preventatives, paramount among these being effective and broad specificity vaccines providing long-lived immunity, will rely heavily on our ability to describe and monitor the viral genome in fine detail, continually annotating changes. Crucial to this will be the developement and use of biomarkers to assess and monitor immune responses to those vaccines.
Similarly, how we manage future pandemics and make effective use of available treatments, whether vaccines or small molecules, will be dependent upon, and informed by, our ability to track and monitor the genetic evolution of the infectious agent. This includes how the infected population responds to changes in the viral genotype. Below I describe some of the ways in which our Genomics Services can support your research and development in this effort.
Next Generation Sequencing provides a timely and effective technical solution for many of the questions raised above. Source BioScience has been working with and providing NGS services to academia and biopharmas for two decades, having been an early adopter of Illumina technology. We now offer a comprehensive range of NGS platforms, including Illumina and ThermoFisher (Ion Torrent) technologies, designed to provide the most accurate and cost-effective solutions for clients' requirements.
Our experience and expertise can now be leveraged to address critical questions raised by the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic such as, how to track viral evolution, identify viral strains and other variants, characterise antibody repertoires and determine whether a vaccine is effective in stimulating an immune response.
The relatively small size of the coronavirus genome (~30Kb) means that lower capacity devices can be used in a cost-efficient manner for small scale experiments, maintaining depth of coverage and therefore accuracy. Validated, off-the-shelf kits for coronavirus genome sequencing are now available from several well-known commercial providers, reducing lead-time to generating study data. Source BioScience can also call on our larger capacity sequencing instruments from Illumina and Thermo Fisher when sample numbers are large and quick turnaround is required.
Recent evidence suggests that demonstrating convergence of the T- and B-cell receptor repertoires is a useful tool for development and optimising the efficacy of vaccines. With its innate ability to interrogate many different sequences in parallel, NGS provides the ideal platform for investigating convergence. Sequencing of B-cell receptor repertoires can be used to reveal antibodies that appear to be part of an adaptive response to SARS-CoV-2.
Finally, transcriptomics, in the form of RNASeq, can provide an important tool for analysing expression patterns and pathways relevant to cytokines and other immunomodulatory proteins known to play a key role in the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19.
Source BioScience can support all the above applications with a dedicated bioinformatics service, and of course the work in our laboratories is carried out to the highest quality standards in our Nottingham facility.
I have described above a number of ways in which Source BioScience’s undoubted expertise in NGS might be exploited to support your efforts in the ongoing challenge represented by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Our efforts now will help prepare for pandemics of the future, which will assuredly come. If you would like to talk to us about how we can assist your company, please contact me directly at [email protected].