Sequencing specialist Dr Aaron Jeffs uses powerful new
genomic testing equipment at the Otago Genomics and
Bioinformatics Facility, at the University of Otago
yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien
A powerful new genomics analysis tool at the University
of Otago is expected to make a significant contribution to
Based at the collaborative Otago Genomics and Bioinformatics
Facility, in the Otago biochemistry department, it is the
first genomics tool of its kind to be installed in this
Valued about $400,000, the computerised device - which allows
up to 800 genes to be analysed from a single cell - was
launched at a function last night. Organisers say this will
be a powerful new tool not only for cancer research, but also
for undertaking a wide range of other molecular biology
The machine's services are being offered to researchers
throughout the country and abroad through New Zealand
Facility manager Dr Becky Laurie said the technology involved
direct digital imaging of the features of individual
molecules, such as DNA, and used colour-coded ''bar codes''
to tag genes of interest.
This approach provided an accurate, highly sensitive
alternative to standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
techniques, which relied on amplifying tiny amounts of DNA.
The new system would allow researchers to measure subtle
changes from small and degraded samples such as cancer biopsy
tissue, she said.
Dr Anita Dunbier, an Otago University breast cancer
researcher, said the equipment would prove useful for breast
cancer research, including through its ability to deal with
Genomics facility officials said the new tool expanded on
existing services, and complemented high-throughput gene
sequencers, microarray and bioinformatics equipment already
available at the facility.