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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