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SUSTech Releases Peacock Team's Key Third Generation Gene Sequencer Results

Aug 1, 2017 Latest

 On July 31, the SUSTech Peacock Team presented its third generation gene sequencer results at the Peacock conference held in the Shenzhen Civic Center. Leading the team was Associate Professor of the Department of Biology of SUSTech He Jiakui, who is also the chairman of the gene company that launched the third generation gene sequencer GenoCare. GenoCare's gene sequencer is the world's most accurate and the only one that is used in clinical application. Its technical level is the first in Asia and the world, and it is moving to occupy a key place in the genetic industry.

         Shenzhen Municipal Government Deputy Secretary-General Wu You, Luohu District Party Secretary He Haitao, Shenzhen Economic and Trade and Information Committee Deputy Director Gao Lin, Luohu District Vice Mayor Song Qiang, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Chen Runsheng, American Association for the Advancement of Science Michael Deem, Hospital Group President Sun Xi Zhuo and the former member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing Genomics Institute deputy director Yu Jun attended the conference. SUSTech Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School Tang Tao and other relevant heads of departments involved were present, as well as the gene research and development team. The conference was chaired by Wang Susheng, Director of Planning and Development Department of SUSTech and Director of Major Project Office.

Wang Susheng presided over the conference

Wu You's speech

         Wu You congratulated the team and He Jiankui on behalf of the Shenzhen municipal government. He said that Shenzhen has become a national innovation arena, even the national innovation city and a strategic platform for emerging industry clusters to experiment and develop. It has particularly valued the biological and health industries' development by providing these future industries with extensive training and support resources. SUSTech Professor He Jiakui's team is an example of the kind of support offered through the Peacock Plan.

Tang Tao's speech

         Tang Tao also gave a speech in which he said the third generation of gene sequencers have successfully been put into operation, and this is partly thanks to the Shenzhen Municipal Government's innovation-driven development strategy, of which the "Peacock Plan" is a component. In the future, SUSTech plans to further strengthen research and development efforts, improve collaboration mechanisms, and strive to adhere to excellence, innovation, and high-end scientific research achievements. In order to achieve these goals the university plans to assign resources to cultivate more top-notch innovative talents for the modernization of Shenzhen, and the country.

Song Qiang's speech

         Song Qiang pointed out that in recent years, the active development of the Luohu District has vigorously supported achievements of scientific and technological innovation in the area - Shenzhen Hanhai gene biotechnology Co., Ltd. for example is registered there. SUSTech has built an academic research base, with a strong focus on start-ups and entrepreneurship as the core model of production and research, and Luohu District looks forward to establishing closer ties with the university to further develop high tech industries.

Chen Runsheng's speech

         Chen Runsheng then gave a talk from the perspective of industrial innovation, saying that He Jiankui and his team's research results were of historical significance. He said that it was five years ago that He first proposed the idea of ​​the third generation of gene sequencers, and now thanks to their hard work the idea has materialised. Thanks to emerging technologies, gene sequencing has increased significantly due to the fact that the cost has dropped massively. The study of the human genetic code will certainly play a key role in the history of human biomedical development, and the new sequencer technology is will contribute significantly to that.

 

Third generation gene sequencer's debut

The audience was then treated to a video of the gene sequencer in action, with the participating leaders of the SUSTech Peacock team showcasing the major results obtained from it.

Yu Jun's speech

         Yu Jun then gave the audience an introduction on the third generation gene sequencer. Its technical advantages include single molecule resolution, no GC preference and simple and fast sample processing. This device not only overcomes the shortcomings of the relatively low performance of single molecule sequencing, but also provides the possibility of direct RNA sequencing. Its application will cover both scientific research and clinical fields, which in turn offer valuable social and business prospects.

He Jiakui's speech

         Professor He is no newbie when it comes to R & D experience. He joined SUSTech in 2012, right after the establishment of his Han gene company. In 2016, his team was selected for the "Peacock Plan", which unlocked 20 million CNY funding from the municipal government. The average age of team is 28 years old, and after several years of intensive research, it has completed three generations of sequencers as well as supporting research and development work. Currently it is still in prototype production, the next step will be to develop it for mass production, disrupting the market's non-China based sequencing monopoly.

         During the past two years, SUSTech has had 10 teams selected for the Peacock Plan, with core members usually being young professors. The university's innovation mechanism designed to support the professors's projects allows them to easily transfer their research results to the market for corporate applications. Currently, it has helped register almost 20 high-tech project companies, including six selected by the Peacock Plan, totalling a market value of nearly 800 million yuan.

         Thanks to the new technology, sequencing prices are expected to drop to around $100, thus creating each individual his personal "genetic identity card." Currently, the team has applied for 92 patents relating to their technology, including 10 overseas. This hopefully will put China on par with the USA and the UK, the other two world leaders in the field.

         Representatives from the Shenzhen Municipal Party Committee Organization Department, Municipal Development and Reform Commission, City Branch, City Board of Education, Municipal Health Commission, Municipal Food and Drug Administration, Luohu District Science and Technology Bureau also attended the conference.

Contributed by: Pang Cuijiong, Wang Ziyi

Edited by: Jeremy Welburn

Photo: Wu Bingzhen

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