Land­mark move

China’s first na­tional gene bank open in Shen­zhen

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHAIHUA in Shen­zhen grace@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

China Na­tional GeneBank, the coun­try’s first na­tional gene bank, was of­fi­cially put into use on Thurs­day. The com­plex is ex­pected to of­fer strong sup­port to the de­vel­op­ment of the ge­net­ics in­dus­try.

Lo­cated in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, the bil­lion-dol­lar CNGB cov­ers an area of 47,500 square me­ters with a unique de­sign like ter­raced fields and has saved more than 10 mil­lion biosam­ples with a data stor­age ca­pac­ity of 20 petabytes for phase I.

One petabyte is about 400 bil­lion pages of word doc­u­ments.

It is the world’s fourth na­tional-level gene bank. The other three are in the US, Europe and Ja­pan.

Wang Jian, pres­i­dent of Shen­zhen-based ge­netic se­quenc­ing firm BGI, said: “The CNGB’s data will be open to so­ci­ety, pro­vid­ing strong sup­port to the de­vel­op­ment of the ge­net­ics in­dus­try.”

China’s ge­netic se­quenc­ing mar­ket, one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of the in­dus­try, in 2016 has be­come the largest in the world with an an­nual growth rate of above 20 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to re­search firm iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group.

To fur­ther sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try, the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion in 2011 ap­proved the es­tab­lish­ment ofCNGBand en­trusted BGI-Re­search with its con­struc­tion.

Mei Yonghong, for­mer mayor of Jin­ing in Shan­dong prov­ince who is now di­rec­tor of CNGB, said he be­lieves the gene bank can link all el­e­ments of gene-re­lated fields, from re­sources and sci­en­tific re­search to ap­pli­ca­tions in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries, such as pre­ci­sion medicine and agri­cul­ture.

At the open­ing cer­e­mony, CNGB signed co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with some in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal part­ners, such as Sval­bard Global Seed Vault, Ger­man Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter, Shen­zhen In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy and Huawei Tech­nolo­gies, which pro­vides data stor­age ser­vice for the bank.

Lyu Jiancheng, vice di­rec­tor of SIAT, said the CNGB will help them to write genes of 10 mil­lion phages (a kind of virus) so that they can make new reagents and de­velop new medicines.

The open­ing of the gene plat­form will also re­duce costs in the ge­netic in­dus­try, thanks to home made equip­ment with high pre­ci­sion.

The world lead­ing gene com­pany Il­lu­mina has man­aged to prac­tice in­di­vid­ual ge­netic se­quenc­ing within the cost of be­low $1,000 in 2014, but Mei Yonghong said the aim of CNGB is 1,000 yuan ($152).

BGI’s new ge­netic se­quenc­ing equip­ment BGISEQ-500, which is ex­pected to hit the mar­ket in Oc­to­ber and the price is said to be one third of its coun­ter­parts.

CNGB owns 150 sets of the equip­ment now and the plat­form could sat­isfy the gene se­quenc­ing needs of 50,000 peo­ple.

Xu Xun, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of CNGB, dis­closed the ma­chine is com­pletely man­u­fac­tured in Shen­zhen — an im­por­tant rea­son for its low price, and more mod­els of their ge­netic se­quenc­ing equip­ment will be re­leased in Novem­ber.

The CNGB’s data will be open to so­ci­ety, pro­vid­ing strong sup­port to the de­vel­op­ment of the ge­net­ics in­dus­try.”

Wang Jian, pres­i­dent of Shen­zhen-based ge­netic se­quenc­ing firm BGI

XIN­HUA

A scholar at the China Na­tional GeneBank puts gene sam­ples into liq­uid ni­tro­gen for preser­va­tion.

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