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Next Gen Sequencing – Transforming Modern Healthcare

Dr Debjani Saha

Dr Debjani Saha, Group Product Manager, Premas Life Sciences Pvt Ltd talked about ‘Next Gen Sequencing: Current and future paradigms for infectious disease diagnosis’ at the virtual second edition of Elets Diagnostics Leadership Summit. Edited Excerpt.

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With an experience of over 15 years, Premas Life Sciences Pvt Ltd began as a contract research organization with a thriving life sciences department. The organization is known for bringing cutting-edge genomics technologies to India, prominent among which is Illumina Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Dr Debjani Saha, Group Product Manager, Premas Life Sciences Pvt Ltd chronicled some of the key applications of NSG in the field of infectious diseases and microbiology.

She stated that in the post-covid era, the need for newer tools, cutting edge applications for figuring the disease diagnosis and also to get to the bottom of the pathogen has been felt like never before. And it is extremely important to understand how these cutting edge tools can be leveraged towards addressing challenges which plague our country in infectious diseases. She detailed the core methods in microbiology pertaining to the NGS that include Whole genome sequencing, Shotgun metagenomics, 16s rRNA sequencing and Virology.

She further drew comparison between a culture based method, which has been the method of choice for many years and NGS. She shared how NGS has a number of advantages in terms of the amount of time that it takes to resolve a pathogen; it’s completely hypothesis free; it’s extremely sensitive & is scalable and is capable of generating an important volume that has potential for both current and future analysis.

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She also gave deep insights about the entire Genome Sequencing process and the questions it answers. She averred how culture based methods take days to weeks in figuring out the pathogen and often does not give important information about drug sensitivity. However, in whole Genome Sequencing the time taken to ascertain the pathogen is shortened to one or two days along with discovering the epidemiological lineage of that particular pathogen and frame out a mediation strategy in place. Further, significant information about the virulence or the resistance of the stream and basically the drug sensitivity of the particular stream will also be known. Also, the data can also be correlated with national and international databases upon sharing with collaborators.

Talking of some of the modern challenges of the healthcare system, Dr. Saha detailed about antimicrobial resistance as the sector is running out of drugs to which our pathogens are sensitive and how through NSG helps to understand this data and help understand what are the mutations in the various genes which render these pathogens resistant to various drugs and figure out a way on mediating this kind of a drug resistance.

She also talked about another significant application of microbiology, metagenomics. She averred that the microbiome in humans is extremely important and it’s the extra genetic quotient which contributes hugely to the well-being of a person. Dr. Saha also gave exhaustive insights about Covid Seq for Covid mutation detection and surveillance. She concluded by talking about the highly accurate Illumina Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and how it’s now widely used for disease surveillance.

 

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