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Thermo Extends SARS-CoV-2 Program to Support Research on New Virus Strains

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As scientists continue to identify new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the B.1.1.7 UK variant that studies suggest is more transmissible, genetic sequencing is being used to track these strains and new ones that are emerging, as well as to trace transmission patterns within communities. Today, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced an extension of its SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program to provide additional units of the Ion Torrent Genexus System* and Ion GeneStudio S5* Series sequencers at a subsidized price to further support global COVID-19 research and surveillance.

Understanding the virus’s genetic code and new variants is critical to assist with genetic tracing and transmission interruption efforts. Further research is also needed to determine how new strains affect people who are infected and vaccine effectiveness. Thermo Fisher’s next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology offers researchers fast, real-time sequencing-data acquisition and easy data sharing across the global scientific community, as suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“As new strains of the virus have emerged and continue to spread, genetic sequencing provides unique insights on the epidemiology of infection and transmission patterns,” said Garret Hampton, president of clinical next-generation sequencing and oncology at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “When we first launched the GlobalAccess Sequencing Program in May, our intention was to accelerate multi-institutional efforts to map coronavirus transmission and epidemiological studies. We are excited to continue our support of global research efforts to help track the growing presence of new strains across the globe.”

With only five minutes of hands-on time required, the Genexus System is the world's first turnkey NGS solution that is designed to deliver results in a day in a decentralized laboratory setting. The platform's ease of use and automation has been developed to provide researchers – regardless of expertise level – access to the power of NGS technology. When combined with the Ion AmpliSeq SARS-CoV-2 Research Panel, the platform provides laboratories with a powerful, specimen-to-report workflow to carry out infectious disease studies using minimal amounts of sample.

In July of 2020, Thermo Fisher expanded the GlobalAccess Sequencing Program to laboratories working in oncology.