New GU £15m gene project

Keir Watt
Writer

The University of Glasgow has launched a £15 million gene sequencing project in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and Illumina, a world leader in sequencing and genomics.

The project will install fifteen HiSeq X sequencing instruments divided between both universities. The HiSeq X, created by Illumina, is the most powerful sequencing platform ever created, and a set of fifteen can sequence 27,000 genomes a year at a cost of £660 per genome.

With this cutting edge technology combined with the immense processing power of the UK’s national supercomputer facility, located in Edinburgh, the genes of both sick and healthy people can be sequenced on a large scale, hopefully leading to better understanding of the causes of various diseases and how they can be treated.

Although cancer has been categorized into over 100 types, even the same type of cancer may present symptomatically in different ways and respond to treatment differently across patients. By sequencing the genes of many different samples from many patients, researchers will be able to learn what makes one cancer different from another. Discovering how genomic changes are connected with specific outcomes in patients may lead to developing more effective and individualized treatments for each patient.

Gene sequencing could also help in treating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions, which could be cured in the future if the genes responsible can be pinpointed through gene sequencing.

The Scottish Genome Partnership project not only represents the future of treating life threatening diseases such as cancer, but will also put Scotland at the forefront of gene-led precision medicine.