1. Could you tell our audiences about MGI, your focus and specialization?
MGI (MGI Tech Co. Ltd.) is a company that builds tools and technology to lead life science through intelligent innovation. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Shenzhen, China, we are now the global leader in the gene sequencing industry. Building on our own technological inventions, we focus on the research & development, production and sales of innovative sequencing instruments*, reagents*, and related products to support life science research, agriculture, precision medicine and healthcare. Our overarching mission is to develop and promote advanced life science tools for future healthcare.
As a leading producer of clinical high-throughput gene sequencers*, our multi-omics platforms include genetic sequencing*, medical imaging, and laboratory automation. With a global footprint of over 70 countries and regions, serving 1,000 international users, we have established scientific research and production bases, global training and service network in many countries and regions around the world. Almost one third of all our employees are R&D personnel, demonstrating our significant investment in new products and technologies.
2. How long have you had a presence in the Middle East and why is it a key area for your business?
In February 2019, we announced our expansion into the Middle East with the opening of an office in Dubai. Allowing us to better serve our partners and clients within the region, the expansion means we can support universities, hospitals, healthcare institutions and other customers and partners in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
With a local presence and an ever-growing Middle East team, we are dedicated to bringing our genomic technologies to the regional market and helping the people of the GCC live better and healthier lives. The list of companies that we collaborate with is ever-expanding and our presence means a deeper level of engagement in the region, including participating in major exhibitions, organizing seminars in various local institutions, and raising awareness of our technologies and products to support research and healthcare applications for all types of customers and collaborators.
3. What are some key partnerships and achievements during your time in the region?
One of our proudest achievements within the region is the role that our technology has played in supporting the exemplary fight against the pandemic. Our DNBSEQTM and ATOPlex technologies have allowed us to monitor the spread of the omicron variant, with the innovative equipment supporting the detection, monitoring, surveillance, and tracing of the virus to help safeguard the community on a regional and global scale (more than 70 countries worldwide). In fact, it was our ATOPlex technology, DNBSEQ-G50 benchtop genome sequencer* and MGISP-100, that helped scientists from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to first detect fragments of the omicron variant in wastewater samples in Cape Town.
By enabling the rapid detection and continued monitoring of changes in the virus, the technology has been pivotal in fighting the spread of COVID-19. In turn, this has allowed primary health care providers and authorities to accurately track its movement and spread and take corresponding safety and security measures to protect their populations. Looking ahead, the virus will inevitably continue to mutate, but with effective gene sequencing, we can play a role in helping to minimize its impact by the ongoing genomic surveillance of its mutations.
In Saudi Arabia, our sequencing technologies* contributed to the rapid detection and surveillance of the Covid-19 omicron variant and was responsible for the discovery of the first case of the variant in the country, via MGI sequencers that were supplied to Saudi Ministry of Health laboratories.
At the beginning of 2022, we participated in Guangdong Week at Expo 2020’s China Pavilion. This was an opportunity for us to practically demonstrate our sequencing technologies*, which played a prominent role in helping the Middle East and Gulf region to combat COVID-19, to a much wider audience.
As well as providing some of the main tools that have helped health care providers and authorities to combat the coronavirus, our products are also playing a key role in supporting scientific research and applications in other areas across the Middle East. For example, last year our products were used in the establishment of a new advanced genomics research facility at the headquarters of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), in Dubai. The facility, called the Desert Life Science Laboratory, is the result of a partnership between ICBA and BGI Group (MGI is an affiliate of BGI Group) and will further do genomic research on a range of projects, including the production of healthier, more nutritious, and resilient crops for sustainable food systems. The lab is equipped with our high-throughput sequencer DNBSEQ-G400RS*.
To summarize, MGI not only engages in the frontline of anti-pandemic, but also holds an ambition to become a key stakeholder in ME’s scientific research projects.
4. Could you tell our audiences what your company is showcasing in PrecisionMed Exhibition and Summit 2022?
We will be thrilled at PMES 2022 to unravel MGI’s first PE 300 (FCS) kit paired with DNBSEQ-G400*. This kit applies the newest developed MLG (Make DNB, Load DNB and Grow) technology which controls nano balls more accurately with increased copy number. Subsequently, signals are boosted to support higher quality data with longer read length based on DNBSEQ platform. Besides, we upgraded reagent components, leading to higher efficiency of biochemical reaction. According to our customers’ early-trial, PE 300 kits had shown high-stability results (Q30%>80). The new MGI PE300 sequencing kit provides a choice with higher throughput and better data quality for the majority of 16S / 18S / its sequencing users and related microbiome research.
We will also be showcasing products that have played a pivotal role in monitoring of the Sars-CoV-2 mutation, including the Omicron variant. DNBSEQ-G400* and DNBSEQ-G50* are high-throughput sequencing platforms that utilize ourDNBSEQTMtechnology to assist in tracing and identifying COVID Sars-CoV-2 variants in multiple regions. In addition, we will showcase our MGISTP-3000, a benchtop, automated sample transfer processing system. It simplifies the whole process from barcode identification, sample preparation, DNA/RNA extraction, liquid transfer, and fluorescence quantitative PCR testing to report distribution in a diagnostic testing laboratory and enable a highly efficient streamlined workflow. By doing so, MGISTP-3000 minimizes the labor required, and significantly shortens the turnaround time for a test report, thus improving the testing efficiency and capacity. At last, the mobile platform for automated and integrated nucleic acid testing on a very large scale will be exhibited.
5. What are some examples of regional applications for these products?
Let’s take the mobile platform as an example. It is a mobile COVID testing suite, designed for use on a mass scale. As the region aims to recover from the pandemic in 2022 and welcomes visitors once again to some of the world’s key sporting events, such as the Qatar Football World Cup, the Dubai World Cup and the Abu Dhabi and Bharain Formula 1, organizers need to be able to process PCR tests in rapid time and on a huge scale. The mobile platform consists of three main cabins including reagent storage, sample preparation, and testing.The state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 2 mobile platform is capable of processing 3,000 patient samples per day and can provide results in 4.5 hours, allowing local health authorities to manage crowds safely and efficiently. The mobile platform well supported the fast mass COVID-19 testing for all participants attending the ISU (International Skating Union) World Figure Skating Championships held in Sweden in March 2021 to ensure the safety.
The automation system of the mobile platform, including sample scanning, transfer and viral RNA extraction, eliminates the risk for the laboratory technicians getting infected during the process. The highly automated easy-to-use system also minimizes the labor requirement, and it only requires three technicians to manage the entire workflow, whilst a traditional pathology lab would need a dozen technicians to process the same number of samples.
6. How do you see the healthcare of tomorrow and how will MGI help facilitate that?
With the ever-growing of healthcare industry, it is generally acknowledged that precision medicine is going to dominate and propel the development of healthcare in the coming future. Birth defects, tumors, infections and other lethal diseases is promisingly eliminated through precise detection and surveillance. As the cornerstone of precision medicine, gene sequencing is extensively applied in mechanism research and clinical diagnosis. After obtaining the full genome sequence of individuals through blood samples, key genetic information can be extracted to predict underlying diseases. As a leading producer of sequencing instruments*, we are committed to providing high-quality, convenient, and fast genetic testing platform to scientists and clinicians. Through these platform will we be able to provide auxiliary tools for tumor prevention, diagnosis and treatment to accelerate the progress of tumor research.
7. What emerging healthcare technology and innovation do you think will make a big difference in the future?
With the booming of informatization, healthcare in the upcoming future is destined to be intelligence-oriented. Setting MGI’s MGIUS-R3 robotic ultrasound system as an example, we developed the robotic system to solve the problem of a shortage of ultrasound doctors in rural areas and to reduce the heavy workload faced by current medical teams. Developed through the integration of robotics, teleoperation and ultrasound imaging technology, the system breaks the limitations of traditional ultrasound scanning methods and improves the uneven distribution of medical resources. Ultimately, it helps to make ultrasound diagnosis accessible to everyone.
In the past decade, omics study has been playing a key role in the interpretation of genetic information, enabling life science to develop from the isolated study of a single gene or protein to the whole. Transcriptomics, spatiotemporal omics, and proteomics study will continue to be an unstoppable trend in regenerative medicine, which solves the shortage of donor tissues and organs required for transplantation. MGI always follows the leads of omics study, and we hold the confidence to develop and innovate.
*Unless otherwise informed, StandardMPS and CoolMPS sequencing reagents, and sequencers for use with such reagents are not available in Germany, USA, Spain, UK, Hong Kong, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Portugal