Life Technologies takes benchtop genome sequencer on tour of UK in a Mini

13 September 2012

Life Technologies is taking a fully functional benchtop Personal Genome Machine (PGM) DNA sequencer nestled in the boot of a Mini on a tour of UK universities.

Not so long ago, you needed a PhD and a lab full of equipment to sequence the DNA of a bacterium or virus, now it can be done in the back of a car — and a small one at that. Life Technologies has kitted out a pair of Minis with the Ion PGM, demonstrating how simple and accessible this new technology is.

The cars started their UK university tour at the Glasgow Science Centre on 27th August at a launch event where schoolchildren experienced this DNA sequencer first hand.

Ion Torrent Mini Lab
The Ion Torrent Mini Lab

The PGM demonstrated its potential last year during the E. coli outbreak in Germany. Health officials confronted by this "superbug" outbreak were able to identify the strain of concern within hours, rather than days or weeks, and use that as a basis to begin planning treatment, potentially saving thousands of lives.

"Aside from being cool to look at, the Mini labs with Ion Torrent technology demonstrate just how we can make accurate sequencing accessible for all," said Peter Silvester, Life Technologies' President, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

"We're also using this event to announce our vision for Scotland to become a centre for stratified medicine and we are making the first steps towards making this a reality with a proposed Innovation Centre that uses this sequencing technology for research."

Stratified or "personalised" medicine aims to use an individual's unique genetic information (DNA sequence) to help physicians target the right medicine, to the right person at the right time. This avoids the use of drugs that won't work for the individual or disease and minimises the potential for adverse side effects.

The Minis will go on tour around the UK stopping off at major universities to provide demonstrations.

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