MGI's innovative gene sequencing technologies to manage future mutations

Dr. Roy Tan, General Manager of MGI Asia Pacific.
Dr. Roy Tan, General Manager of MGI Asia Pacific.

MGI has been supporting the region’s healthcare sector since establishing their regional headquarters in Dubai in 2019.


A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 24 Jan 2022, 6:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 24 Jan 2022, 8:32 PM

MGI, a global leader in innovative gene sequencing technology, has already shown its capabilities in supporting the fight against Covid-19 around the world, and yet, it continues to innovate and develop tools in the ongoing battle against the Omicron variant. These groundbreaking sequencing instruments can be seen at this year’s Arab Health Medlab conference. MGI believes that while inevitably, we must learn to co-exist with the ongoing pandemic, access to rapid, simple testing will be paramount if we are to successfully monitor any subsequent variants that might occur in the future before the spread occurs.

Dr. Roy Tan, General Manager of MGI Asia Pacific, explains, “Whilst vaccinations are the way forward for the eventual recovery from Covid-19 and its often-devastating effects, there are other preventative methods that have allowed authorities to address the virus with immediate results. Gene sequencing technologies enable healthcare professionals to rapidly detect and monitor the virus and any subsequent changes in its DNA, meaning that this surveillance tool is pivotal in fighting the spread of Covid-19 and its mutations. With gene sequencing, authorities can accurately track Covid-19’s movement and spread and take immediate, corresponding safety and security measures to protect entire populations.”

He continued, “Providing the sequencing technology and supporting the Middle East’s exemplary battle against the pandemic has been one of our proudest achievements to-date for the company. However, the fight doesn’t end here. Looking ahead, the virus will inevitably mutate again, but with timely and effective gene sequencing on a large scale, we can play a role in helping to minimise its impact by the ongoing genomic surveillance of its mutations.”

Gene sequencing technologies was what allowed healthcare professionals to first monitor the spread of the Omicron variant in the region, using innovative equipment that supported the detection, surveillance, and tracing of the virus to help safeguard communities. In fact, it was MGI’s technologies that helped scientists from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to first detect fragments of the omicron variant in wastewater samples in Cape Town. In Saudi Arabia, the gene sequencing technology MGI supplied to the Saudi Ministry of Health laboratories contributed to the rapid detection and surveillance of the variant and was responsible for the discovery of the first case of the Omicron variant in the country.

During the Medlab conference, MGI unveiled its latest automated sample preparation system, the MGISP-Smart 8. On display for the first time outside of China, the technology represents a major breakthrough in lab automation, supporting highly accurate gene testing on a huge scale. The company’s latest DNBSEQ* gene sequencing platforms, the high-throughput sequencing sets that played such a key role in monitoring of the SARS-CoV-2 mutation and detecting the variant, the MGISTP-3000 benchtop automated sample transfer processing system, and the mobile platform for automated and integrated nucleic acid testing on a large scale can also be viewed at the conference.

Dr. Tan said: “As well as having the ability to confidently detect variations in a virus, if we want to keep entire populations safe, then we have to be able to test on a huge scale. As the region aims to recover from the pandemic in 2022 and welcomes visitors once again for major events, such as the Qatar Football World Cup, and the Dubai World Cup, organizers need to be able to process PCR tests in rapid time and on a huge scale. Our mobile platform, which consists of three main components, including reagent storage, sample preparation, and testing based on qPCR testing methods, is a state-of-the-art “mobile” laboratory capable of processing 3,000 patient samples per day and can provide results in 4.5 hours, allowing local health authorities to manage crowds safely and efficiently.”

MGI has been supporting the region’s healthcare sector since establishing their regional headquarters in Dubai in 2019, working with universities, hospitals, healthcare institutions and partners in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the company’s commitment to advancing gene sequencing and research within the region, Dr. Tan adds, “Beyond providing some of the main tools that have helped healthcare providers and authorities combat the coronavirus, we also play a key role in supporting scientific research and applications in other areas of interest across the Middle East. Last year, our products were used in the establishment of a new advanced genomics research facility at the headquarters of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), in Dubai. The facility, called the Desert Life Science Laboratory, is the result of a partnership between ICBA and BGI Group (MGI’s parent company) and will further genomic research on a range of projects, including the production of healthier, more nutritious, and resilient crops for sustainable food systems.” —

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