A Glance at Next Generation Sequencing Technologies for COVID-19 Applications

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) has been an area of rapid growth, with new technologies emerging to tackle challenging and previously intractable applications.

The power of these new technologies can be seen along the frontier of human genetics and in the creation of ever-more insightful research tools and diagnostics.

Most recently, NGS technologies have been applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the many challenges of this newly emergent disease is the understanding of viral evolution and spread which are paramount to containment and treatment strategies.

To address these questions, scientists have sequenced numerous isolates of virus taken from patients using NGS technologies. Together with bioinformatic and AI tools, details regarding strain origin and mutation rates have started to emerge. It appears natural mutation rates are slow yet consistent, but those affecting virulence, or the ability to influence disease severity, are perhaps less common, based on available data. Large-scale collaborations, such as the GISAID initiative, are advancing this and other research into virus genetics and population dynamics.

The application of NGS technologies to a problem of this scale and scope speaks to the power of innovation in tackling the toughest challenges. Here are a few new NGS solutions at the cutting edge of innovation for COVID-19 research and an ever-broadening array of applications.

In July, Perkin Elmer released two online resources to assist the global scientific community in researching COVID-19 antiviral drugs and vaccines. The resources are powered by the company’s data analytics and data visualization solutions.

PerkinElmer’s NEXTFLEX® Rapid Directional RNA-seq kit 2.0 is well-suited for coronavirus-related NGS studies including library preparation for targeted sequencing, whole genome and shotgun sequencing, and expression analysis. The kit provides high coverage uniformity, low duplication rates, strand specificity with a streamlined, automated protocol enabling rapid analysis of SARS-CoV-2 samples.

DNA solutions, including the NEXTFLEX® Rapid XP DNA-Seq kit allows the sequencing of human DNA to analyze how the clinical outcome in COVID-19 cases be explained by human genetic diversity. 

The LabChip® GX Touch nucleic acid analyzer using the NGS 3K assay delivers automated analysis of the sizes and profiles of NGS libraries for required quality assessment prior to sequencing. With flexible throughput options and multiple data visualization choices, the LabChip® GX Touch nucleic acid analyzer simplifies library QC.

Fluidigm is teaming up with researchers from around the world to advance a sustainable approach towards the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s RNA detection technologies, including the Biomark HD and integrated fluidic circuits (IFC), are being harnessed to develop, low-cost, scalable detection solutions. The CyTOF mass cytometry technologies are providing the ability to spatially image the immune response in tissue samples, with the potential to influence clinical outcome.

The Fluidigm suite of kits for NGS library construction, such as the Advanta RNA-Seq XT NGS Library Prep Kit, provide enrichment and quality control solutions for RNA or DNA analysis. The Juno system for targeted DNA sequence analysis, can achieve high-throughput library preparation using an advanced microfluidic format. Applications include genotyping, gene expression, RNA sequencing, targeted DNA sequencing, as well as bioinformatic tools applicable to COVID-19 detection and disease analysis.

In the area of disease informatics, the digital health company Congenica has launched a new module for its genomics analysis platform that will accelerate research into the relationship between an individual's genomic variation and COVID-19 susceptibility, severity, and clinical outcomes. 

The company’s scalable software and complete genomic analysis allows interpretation of NGS data quickly and with powerful results.

Just a glance at new NGS solutions helping to drive COVID-19 research forward.

Take a tour of current listings at LabX.com

DNA Sequencers

PCR/Thermal Cycler

Real-Time PCR

Digital PCR

DNA Synthesizers

Reagents and Synthesis

and thousands more...