Sanger Institute expects to initiate mapping of bacteria and parasites this month.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has purchased OpGen’s Argus Optical Mapping System, which is expected to reduce the time and cost of whole genome sequence assembly. The Mapping and Archive Sequencing Division at the Sanger Institute plans to begin optical mapping of bacteria and parasites in January.

“Traditional mapping techniques used to create a physical map of ordered sequence contigs can take 3–6 months to complete for a small eukaryote such as a helminth,” says Carol Churcher, head of sequencing operations, Sanger Institute. “We need a new approach to improve the efficiency of finishing and validating sequence assemblies.”

Launched in June 2010, the Argus Optical Mapping System provides high-resolution, whole genome restriction maps for strain typing, comparative genomics, and sequence assembly of microbial genomes. It is based on technology that generates ordered, whole genome restriction maps from single DNA molecules. This technology is free from the limitations of gel, PCR, and sequencing-based methodologies, according to the firm.

By utilizing an optical map as the whole genome scaffold, researchers are able to identify gaps in a sequence and target specific areas of the genome for additional sequencing. This reduces the need for thousands of cloning, PCR, and sequencing reactions involved with traditional finishing techniques. It also provides a sequence method for whole genome sequence assembly validation.

In September 2010, OpGen secured $17 million Series B equity financing to support the marketing of the Optical Mapping System, to fund the development of new applications that will complement sequencing technologies and help facilitate rapid completion of large genome mapping, and to finish technologies currently under development at the company. In November 2010, BGI announced its intent to use Argus Optical Mapping System for de novo sequence finishing in human, plant, and animal genomes.

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