UP Visayas Philippine Genome Center acquires country’s 1st Next-Gen Sequencers for COVID

UP Visayas Philippine Genome Center Next-Gen Sequencers
The PGC Visayas Laboratories is at the Regional Research Center of UPV in Miagao, Iloilo. UPV photo.

The University of the Philippines Visayas-hosted Philippine Genome Center (PGC) has just received the country’s first set of Next-Generation Sequencers to enable the center for Whole Genome Sequencing to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants in the region.

The sequencers acquired by PGC Visayas, the Illumina ISeq 100, and Illumina NextSeq 1000 (distributed and locally supported by Lifeline Diagnostics), are some of the latest sequencing platforms available in the market, with the installation of the NextSeq 1000 being the first in the Philippines, the UP Visayas report stated.

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The initial trial run of the sequencers began on January 24, 2022, after they were installed on January 20 at the PGC Visayas Laboratories at the Regional Research Center of UPV in Miagao, Iloilo. The PGC Visayas will conduct a series of minor runs over the next two weeks to optimize all the systems in place.

The UP Visayas says that full operations are targeted to start by the 3rd or 4th week of February. The PGC Visayas expects it will be able to sequence around 350-375 samples per week.

PGC Visayas also partnered up with the Western Visayas Medical Center – Sub National Laboratory (WVMC-SNL) and the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) of Department of Health Region 6 in order to carry out aspects of the sequencing workflow.

The leading COVID-19 testing laboratory in the region will be handling the RNA extraction step prior to sequencing at the PGC Visayas Laboratories, while DOH-RESU 6 will be in charge of coordinating all the samples to be selected for sequencing with the DOH Epidemiology Bureau. DOH-RESU 6 will also assist in transporting the RNA extracts from WVMC-SNL to PGC Visayas.

In preparation for its sequencing activities, PGC Visayas also reached out to the alumni of UPV for assistance in making the sequencing operations of PGC Visayas more sustainable. The UPV alumni organizations, UPAA-Iloilo Chapter and IamUPhi, were able to secure donations for additional lab gowns, an industrial washing machine, a dryer, and other peripheral supplies for PGC Visayas.

Further assistance was provided by the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Sabinay of the West Visayas State University – College of Medicine through the temporary loan of additional laboratory peripherals.

PGC Visayas was established in 2019 with funding support from the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and the University of the Philippines System. The next-generation sequencers were acquired through the funding support of the Department of Budget and Management.

The UP Mindanao-Philippine Genome Center had also set up a Covid lab in Davao.

The UP Diliman Philippine Genome Center has been instrumental in the development of the country’s first COVID-19 test kit.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.