SHENZHEN, Dec. 15, 2021 -- MGI Tech Co., Ltd. ("MGI"), a global life science leader and innovator, is playing an instrumental role in the global battle against the omicron variant of COVID-19 with its DNBSEQ™ and ATOPlex technologies. As a responsible global company, and as omicron begins to rapidly spread around the world, MGI's innovative equipment has been used in the detection, monitoring, surveillance, and tracing of the new variant to safeguard the global community in more than 70 countries worldwide to date, including South Africa, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Australia.
Supporting detection of omicron in South Africa's wastewater with rapid sequencing and ATOPlex technology
In light of the increasing dominance of the omicron variant in South Africa, researchers across the country are turning to MGI to ramp up their screening efforts and manage the spread of COVID-19 through sequencing of wastewater samples. Wastewater surveillance is key to pandemic management as it can rapidly identify COVID-19 hotspots and circulating variants, which can in turn inform a rapid public health response.
With MGI's ATOPlex technology, DNBSEQ-G50 benchtop genome sequencer* and MGISP-100, scientists from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) were able to detect fragments of the omicron variant in 11 out of 12 wastewater samples collected across Cape Town, including at Cape Town International Airport. The SAMRC was the first report of the Omicron variant being detected in the City of Cape Town's wastewater system and the detection coincides with an increase in cases in the city.
"At the South African Medical Research Council, our team used the ATOPlex technology and the DNBSEQ-G50* to sequence SARS-COV-2 from wastewater samples collected from wastewater treatment plants across South Africa. This technology was instrumental in confirming the presence of omicron at in a sample collected at Cape Town international airport before omicron was first announced". Said Prof Craig Kinnear, Human Geneticist and Platform Manager of the SAMRC Genomics Centre.
ATOPlex is a two-step multiplex PCR method which amplifies all viral fragments in one tube providing target enrichment, amplification, and library construction in one simple process. It is relatively cheap, available, and fast in comparison to other PCR methods. It is an ultra-short amplicon-based method (106-199bp) which can capture more shorter fragments direct from a clinical sample or environmental sample and is more likely to obtain a complete viral genome sequence. Moreover, ATOPlex introduces a DNA spike-in control in the two-step multiplex PCR process. The DNA spike-in control was co-amplified with SARS-CoV-2 coupled to count-based analysis to accurately detect SARS-CoV-2, quantify its viral load, and measure the cross-contamination1.
MGI ATOPlex technology provides powerful instrument support for effective whole-genome sequencing, surveillance, and monitoring of new COVID-19 variants such as omicron, as well as personalized and customized panels for targeted surveillance of pathogenic micro-organisms.
ATOPlex is designed to work in tandem with MGI's DNBSEQ™ genetic sequencing technologies, such as the DNBSEQ-G50*, DNBSEQ-G400*, and DNBSEQ-T7*. A compact and flexible benchtop genome sequencer, DNBSEQ-G50* improves the speed, efficiency, and affordability of laboratory workflows. With two different Flow Cells — Flow Cell Small (FCS) and Flow Cell Large (FCL) — DNBSEQ-G50* allows for short turnaround times for STAT samples while enabling a lower cost per sample.
Prior to omicron, MGI supplied the DNBSEQ-G50 genome sequencer* and MGISP-100 robotic nucleic extraction and sample preparation system to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to support the nation's public health authority in the genomic surveillance of infectious strains.
Enabling the discovery of the first case of the omicron variant in Sweden and Saudi Arabia
In addition to the detection and surveillance of omicron in South Africa, MGI has supported other nations to detect the first cases of the variant in their country. Its ATOPlex technology was integral in supporting the National Pandemic Center (NPC) at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden to discover its first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant. In Saudi Arabia, MGI supplied its ATOPlex technology and DNBSEQ-G400* rapid sequencing platform to support the Kingdom's Ministry of Health, which was responsible for detecting the first case of the omicron variant from a citizen coming from North Africa.
MGI (MGI Tech Co., Ltd.), headquartered in Shenzhen, is committed to building core tools and technology to lead life science through intelligent innovation. Based on its proprietary technology, MGI focuses on Research & Development, production and sales of sequencing instruments*, reagents, and related products to support life science research, agriculture, precision medicine and healthcare. MGI is a leading producer of clinical high-throughput gene sequencers*, and its multi-omics platforms include genetic sequencing*, medical imaging, and laboratory automation. MGI's mission is to develop and promote advanced life science tools for future healthcare. For more information, please visit the MGI website or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube.
*Unless otherwise informed, all sequencers and sequencing reagents are not available in Germany, USA, Spain, UK, Hong Kong, Sweden, Belgium and Italy.
1. Ni, G. et al. Novel Multiplexed Amplicon-Based Sequencing to Quantify SARS-CoV-2 RNA from Wastewater. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 8, 683–690 (2021).