Published: 30/07/2015 16:41:48
dna research at the aht transformed by cutting-edge sequencer
Following a successful application, scientists at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) are among a select few to receive an Oxford Nanopore “MinION” DNA sequencer – a cutting-edge piece of equipment to revolutionise the way scientists sequence DNA.
As one of the UK’s leading research institutions advancing animal welfare, DNA sequencing forms an integral part of the research carried out at the AHT. The process allows scientists to find mutations that cause inherited diseases and facilitates future vaccine development and disease management. DNA sequencing is also vital in the study of equine diseases Strangles and equine herpes virus (EHV), in which the AHT are world-leaders.
The MinION DNA sequencer is a welcome addition to the AHT’s portfolio as it is able to sequence long pieces of DNA, enabling genetic codes to be assembled and read swiftly. With the addition of the MinION DNA sequencer, the doors are opened for the AHT to make potential breakthroughs in the study of both Strangles and EHV.
“We are now fantastically equipped at the AHT as we have four DNA sequencers which all perform a slightly different role,” said Oliver Forman, Post-doctoral Scientist in the Kennel Club Canine Genetics department at the AHT, who submitted the application for the new MinION DNA sequencer. “The fact that the MinION specialises in sequencing long pieces of DNA will be invaluable in putting the pieces of sequence together, which is often like a jigsaw puzzle.”
Dr Andrew Waller, Head of Bacteriology at the AHT said, “The MinION will enable us to learn more about a new strain of Streptococcus equi, the causative agent of Strangles, which has swept across the UK and has now been identified in horses with Strangles in Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland and Dubai. The information will help us to work out why this new strain has become so widespread, and assist in developing improved vaccines that will be better able to prevent the disease.”
Dr Neil Bryant, Virologist and lead scientist in the study of EHV at the AHT said, “Long term, the information we gain from the MinION will help us identify differences between EHV-1 isolates and how they are related to the disease in the horse.”
The technology will also be utilised by the AHT’s award-winning canine genetics group, led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, who have recently been recognised for their work to improve understanding of inherited diseases in purebred dogs and their development of DNA tests to help dog breeders improve the health of future generations of dogs.
Oliver concluded, “We are delighted to have been awarded this new sequencing device, as it has the potential to aid so many important studies helping to improve animal health and welfare.”
Notes to Editors:
- The MinION is in trial phase and as such is not currently commercially available. The Animal Health Trust received the device by applying to an early access program.
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