The reference center in Argentina responsible for analyzing all pathogens that pose a threat to human health is the National Administration of Laboratories and Institutes of Health “Dr. Carlos Malbrán “, or better known as ANLIS Institute – Malbrán, a decentralized public body dependent on the Ministry of Health of the Nation
That was where the arrival of the new coronavirus in the country was confirmed on March 3, 2020 SARS-CoV-2 causing the disease COVID-19, from a passenger arriving from Europe. This laboratory, which had a hard work in 2020 analyzing samples, decoding new mutations of the coronavirus and training professionals from other analysis laboratories around the country, It redoubled its efforts in early 2021 by acquiring new technology to advance the fight against the virus.
Thus, Malbrán professionals confirmed the arrival of a new next-generation Genomic Platform that allows to guarantee the diagnosis, genomic sequencing, epidemiological surveillance and zoonotic surveillance -both in real time-, the confirmation and monitoring of reinfections, and the monitoring of the adequacy of the vaccine formulas for SARS-CoV-2.
The Ministry of Health has acquired for ANLIS, Carlos G. Malbrán, new equipment from Illumina, including a robotic platform, a new generation sequencing equipment with high sequence generation capacity and a computer infrastructure for large-scale genomic epidemiology, metagenomics and artificial intelligence studies.
The amount invested is almost one million dollars (992,600 USD) and it is the only unit of its kind in the Region. It is the Covid Seq sequencing device, which enables the generation of 360 GB of sequencing information in 12 hours. This generates, for example, 3,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes in 24 hours of operation, which supports large-scale, real-time genomic study.
So that these studies can be scalable, The sequencing equipment is associated with a robotic platform that allows obtaining genetic material from different clinical samples and subsequent processing in a pre and post amplification stage of the genetic material. This robotic platform can be programmed for various uses, which also allow the institution’s molecular diagnosis to be scaled up.
The importance of having a team of these characteristics in the midst of a pandemic and with new and threatening mutations, is that the genomic sequencing that it performs is the only technology that allows the confirmation of reinfections. The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation measures at the social level, highlight the urgency to obtain a safe and effective vaccine in record time.
Sequencing the virus means knowing its master plan. Know your enemy. The well-known phrase from the famous book strategy treatise The Art of War, of Sun-Tzu, acquires an essential character against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that threatens the health of thousands of people and puts the organization and health systems of multiple countries to the test: the coronavirus.
The scientific-technical director of the Malbrán Institute, Claudia Perandones (MN 83.079), in dialogue with Infobae, explained that “One of the best ways to know an organism is to sequence its genome, It contains the necessary instructions to make it work. When a pandemic like COVID-19 occurs, knowing the genome of the responsible infectious agent provides highly relevant information for researchers. It allows them to identify what is causing the disease, to know its origin and evolution over time, or to develop therapeutic strategies to deal with it, ”says the Malbrán expert.
Genomics is also essential for monitoring the diversity of the genome regions as vaccine candidates at a nucleotide level of precision and their comparison with emerging variants in different geographical areas.
This platform is the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA – United States) both for its use in diagnosis and for genomic sequencing of coronavirus and is already being used by reference laboratories in the United States and in the world for this purpose.