The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens, (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana has unveiled a new state-of-art next generation sequencing equipment.
The Illumina NextSeq2000 sequencer purchased at the cost of US$ 350,000.00 was procured through a grant from the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
Speaking at a short ceremony on the sidelines of the just ended 2021 WACCBIP Research Conference, Ms. Joyce Nwongeli Ngoi, the NGS Manager at WACCBIP said the Nextseq2000 sequencing machine is a very important addition to WACCBIP as it is a high performance and highly versatile sequencing machine compared to the existing platforms.
“It has a high capacity that will allow us to scale up the SARs-CoV-2 sequencing and identify novel viruses and co-infecting pathogens. It gives us capacity to sequence segments of the human genome for diagnosis of genetic disorders that cause diseases.”
She added, “the machine is the only one of its kind in Ghana that can carry out Single-cell RNA sequencing, a technique that is used to analyze the sequence information from individual cells, providing a high-resolution view of cells. This is important in understanding the function of individual cells with regards to diseases like COVID-19 and others.”
In December 2020, the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) launched an initiative to support capacity building for vaccine development in Africa, and WACCBIP was selected as the Western Africa Hub for the initiative. With initial funding from the Open Society Foundation, ARUA has awarded WACCBIP a US$ 500,000 grant to build capacity for vaccine research and coordinate the activities of the Western Africa Hub. The grant application was facilitated by the University of Ghana’s Office for Research, Innovation and Development (ORID).
WACCBIP has been at the forefront of genomic sequencing for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease).
Its research has provided critical information about circulating variants and the local evolution of the virus in Ghana. Sequencing is a technique that is used in the lab to determine the order of the four chemical bases (nucleotides) that make up the DNA molecule. Long stretches of the DNA molecule make up the genome which is the complete set of genetic information in a living organism.
Genome Sequencing helps to understand what kind of genetic information is carried in a particular organism. Sequencing is done by breaking the genome into smaller pieces, decoding the order of nucleotides within these segments and then reassembling the fragments to obtain the sequence of the whole genome.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a massively parallel sequencing technology that offers ultra-high throughput, scalability, and speed. NGS has revolutionized the biological sciences, allowing labs to perform a wide variety of applications and study biological systems at a level never before possible.
Among the dignitaries present at the brief ceremony included Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary General of ARUA, Professor Felix Asante, Pro Vice Chancellor Research Innovation and Development, and Professor Gordon Awandare, Director of WACCBIP.