Startup brings new genetic knowledge to companies
On 29 June the startup company Future Genomics Technologies will be launched. Its aim is to make DNA technology and research available for businesses faster. Future Genomics Technologies is a collaboration between DNA research laboratory BaseClear and Leiden University.
DNA is the software that contains all the information needed by all living entities. Valuable research is helping us to understand more and more about DNA, thus bringing about rapid developments in this field, which is also known as genomics. For instance, scientists in Leiden are currently engaged in developing applications of a new technique called ‘nanopore sequencing’, in which a machine pulls a DNA molecule through a microscopic hole – a nanopore – and simultaneously reads the DNA sequence.
Companies would like to use this new knowledge and technology as soon as possible. This was the reason for founding Future Genomics Technologies (FG Technologies). The new company wants to focus on ensuring that technologies are fast, replicable, accessible and multi-applicable. FG Technologies aims to show that new scientific ideas can really work in practical applications. This means that new products and services will be made available for the consumer market much faster.
‘Spectacular changes are currently taking place in the field of DNA sequencing, mainly driven by the revolutionary nanopore sequencing technique. With our new company we want to respond to these developments and build a bridge between academic research and innovative applications,’ says Ron Dirks, CEO of FG Technologies.
One of the first large projects of FG Technologies is mapping the DNA sequence – the genome – of the tulip. This knowledge will enable plant breeders to develop tulips with better disease resistance than current varieties. At present, it is very rare for plant breeders to use DNA analysis methods, due to the high costs involved. New technologies, such as nanopore sequencing, make DNA analyses faster, cheaper and more accessible.
‘The tulip genome is ten times the size of the human genome. Until recently it was financially and technically impossible to read such a large genome. Thanks to nanopore sequencing and smarter bioinformatics methods this has changed and a whole new world of possibilities has opened up,’ continues Dirks.
FG Technologies will initially focus on genomics research, but in future aims to expand to other areas, such as proteins and RNA, which enables living entities to produce proteins.
The Institute of Biology of Leiden University (IBL) conducts a great deal of fundamental research in the field of genomics and therefore has excellent knowledge and technology in this area. BaseClear, which is also located in the Bio Science Park and is the largest independent DNA research laboratory in the Netherlands, has the necessary entrepreneurial skills and experience in the area of DNA analysis services. These two partners join forces in the startup company FG Technologies.
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