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Illumina Supports Canada's Nationwide COVID-19 Genome Sequencing Initiative

publication date: Nov 8, 2021
author/source: Illumina


Data from 10,000 individuals affected by SARS-CoV-2 will be used to identify biomarkers that can help predict potential risk of serious disease and support the development of novel therapeutics to combat COVID-19

Illumina Inc. has announced that its world-class sequencing and bioinformatics solutions are being used by HostSeq, part of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), to identify biomarkers that can help predict potential risk of serious disease and support the development of novel therapeutics to combat COVID-19. By sequencing the genomes of up to 10,000 patients diagnosed or affected by COVID-19 throughout Canada, the findings from this program will help researchers and the medical community better understand the role of human genetics in COVID-19 susceptibility.

Illumina Connected Analytics (ICA), the company's signature bioinformatics solution, will enable researchers to safely and securely move petabyte-sized datasets generated by CGEn, the country's platform for sequencing and informatics, from state-of-art sequencers in Toronto (The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Montreal (McGill Genome Centre), and Vancouver (Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre) into a common "cloud" accessible to approved researchers at some of the country's leading research facilities and hospitals. Illumina has worked closely with CGEn since early 2020 to help provide comprehensive, end-to-end solutions for reagent supply, sequencing and informatics to HostSeq.

"We are proud to support and contribute to the work being done by the Canadian research community to better understand the role of human genetics in COVID-19 susceptibility," said Alex Aravanis, MD, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, Head of Research and Product Development at Illumina. "The data being shared within the HostSeq community, powered by cloud-based informatics, will help inform and accelerate the fight against COVID-19."

Stephen Scherer, PhD, Chief of Research at SickKids, and a scientific leader of CGEn and HostSeq noted, "Dozens of researchers spanning the entire country are involved in this effort so data-sharing is essential." Scherer continued, "If we have learned anything from the pandemic it is that the answers will come from scientific data."

Illumina sequencing technology is also being leveraged for some of the work done by another national initiative, VirusSeq, which coordinates and funds expanded genome sequencing efforts and supports the sharing of the data within an open, ethical framework. To date VirusSeq has sequenced more than 260,000 SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes with the highest confidence in data accuracy.

"The data from VirusSeq has allowed our public health agencies to track transmission trends, detect new clusters and outbreaks and identify evolving viral characteristics that could impact public health and policy decisions in Canada," said Catalina Lopez-Correa, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of CanCOGeN at Genome Canada.

Both HostSeq and VirusSeq are part of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), a Genome Canada-led consortium committed to generating accessible and usable genomics data to inform public health and policy decisions, as well as to guide treatment and vaccine development.

ICA provides a comprehensive, private, cloud-based data platform that can empower researchers to manage, analyze, and explore larger volumes of multi-omic data, all in a secure, scalable, and flexible environment. It can reduce workload and possible human error associated with combining multiple datasets. For HostSeq, ICA is deployed on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud and uses the AWS Canada (Central) Region in Montreal.


About Illumina

Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments.



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