2019-nCoV is a new coronavirus variant that has not been previously identified in humans but is responsible for the outbreak originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan and currently rapidly spreading globally with first cases identified and confirmed in Europe already. In response to this situation, and immediately after the occurrence of unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan, BGI sequenced the genome of the new 2019-nCoV virus and successfully developed a Real-Time (RT) Fluorescent PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kit for detecting 2019-nCoV, which can provide results in a few hours and has already obtained approval by the Chinese National Medical Products Administration.
In addition to the rapid detection kit based on RT-PCR technology, the DNBSEQ-T7 sequencing platform developed by the BGI Group company MGI passed the emergency approval procedure of the National Medical Products Administration, becoming the first officially approved testing products in China for surveillance, discovery and identification of unknown infectious diseases.
In Europe, BGI and MGI will work with their long-term strategic partner Ares Genetics to make its 2019-nCoV testing portfolio available to public health institutions and hospitals for outbreak monitoring, infection control, and epidemiology. Ares Genetics expects to provide next-generation sequencing services for 2019-nCoV out of its NGS laboratory in Vienna Austria for infection control and tracking of pathogen evolution from February 2020 onwards based on MGI’s DNBSEQ sequencing platform. Further, Ares Genetics and the Curetis Group will support BGI Group in the distribution of its PCR and NGS reagent kits to molecular testing laboratories in Europe that have the capability for 2019-nCoV testing with reagent kits initially being marketed for research use only prior to regulatory approval in Europe.
Ares Genetics is a digital diagnostics company utilizing artificial intelligence-powered molecular diagnostics to advance the field of infectious disease testing. Ares Genetics recently launched ARESupa – Universal Pathogenome Assay for the broad identification of bacterial pathogens and the accurate prediction of antibiotic susceptibility. The ARESupa test is based on the sequencing of bacterial DNA, combined with data analysis and interpretation powered by ARESdb, Ares Genetics’ unique, proprietary reference database on genetic antimicrobial resistance markers. The first generation of ARESupa is currently offered for non-diagnostic applications in epidemiology, infection control, and outbreak analysis for customers in the public health sector and the pharmaceutical industry. A laboratory-developed test (LDT) for human diagnostic use is under development.