• NICD unveils state-of-the art PacBio Sequel system - the first on the African continent

    The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recently acquired a state-of-the art PacBio Sequel system, the first on the African Continent. The PacBio was funded through NRF grant awarded to CAPRISA Research Associate Prof Penny Moore, and Dr Arshad Ismail, head of the NICD Sequencing Core, as part of the NRF Research Infrastructure Support Programme. The PacBio Sequel System is based on Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing technology. Sequel SMRT cells contain 1 million zero-mode waveguides, and an have average read length of over 10,000 base pairs, producing 10 Gb per cell.


    “Through an MRC Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) funded project, and working closely with Prof Carolyn Williamson’s lab at UCT, this platform will provide NICD with a powerful platform for full envelope deep sequencing in CAPRISA donors who developed broadly neutralizing antibodies, “explained Moore. “This will allow a much deeper understanding of how viral evolution shapes these antibodies.” Moore said that PacBio will also be “invaluable for understanding breakthrough infections in passive antibody trials, including the ongoing AMP trial, and the CAP256-VRC26.25 CAPRISA 012 trial which will soon begin.”   


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Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa

CAPRISA was created in 2001 and formally established in 2002 under the NIH-funded Comprehensive International Program of Research on AIDS (CIPRA) by five partner institutions; University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and Columbia University in New York. CAPRISA is a designated UNAIDS Collaborating Centre for HIV Prevention Research. The main goal of CAPRISA is to undertake globally relevant and locally responsive research that contributes to understanding HIV pathogenesis, prevention and epidemiology as well as the links between tuberculosis and AIDS care.