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  • EHEC bacterium sequencer goes Danish

    - The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) opens its first European sequencing center in Denmark. Known for its EHEC breakthrough last year, BGI will cooperate with Copenhagen University. “This center will play an important role in life sciences and industry in Denmark and Europe,” pledges the institute’s cofounder.

    Remember EHEC? This aggressive and highly contagious "cucumber" bacterium kept Europe on the edge as reports came in that thousands infected themselves with large outbreaks located in Germany. In the end, it appeared that cucumbers were not carrying the germ after all causing particular outrage among Dutch and Spanish farmers who suffered heavy revenue losses.

    Focus on health care, agriculture, bio-energy

    An early breakthrough in assessing the EHEC threat was achieved by two research teams in China and Germany. The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) with its large scale high tech equipment managed to sequence the genes of the bacterium within a few days. The very same institute has now opened its first sequencing center in Copenhagen.

    BGI's new European outpost is located at the Copenhagen Bio Science Park (COBIS) and will cooperate closely with Copenhagen University and a number of other renowned Danish research institutes. The operations will be run on a 1.200 m2 area with 10 Illumina HiSeq 2000 sequencers.

    In the past, BGI contributed significantly to the Human Genome Project (HGP). Now, this expertise will be applied to the task of genetically mapping 1% of the Danish population. Furthermore, BGI aims at identifying certain pathogens, an important towards a vaccine for cancer.

    Sino-Danish cooperation

    Backing this new Sino-Danish cooperation, the local government hopes to facilitate significant advances in the treatment of cancer and metabolic diseases. Speaking at the opening, Piao Olsen Dyhr, Danish Minister for Trade and Investment, said that "Scientific and commercial breakthroughs here in the BGI genome research center will be the best way of attracting further attention to Denmark."

    Yang Huanming, Co-founder and Chairman of BGI added: "I am very confident this joint institute will contribute a lot to genomics in Denmark, in Europe, and over the whole world. This center will play an important role in life sciences and industry in Denmark and Europe."