WASHINGTON – Until this March, machines at the Broad Institute in Massachusetts were decoding the equivalent of an entire human genome every 10 minutes. The automated DNA sequencing facility is among the world’s largest genomics labs. Its technology descends from that which produced the first working draft of the human genome 20 years ago Friday. When COVID-19 started taking hold in the United States, scientists at the institute, affiliated with Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, realized its genome-reading machines could be repurposed to test patient samples for the coronavirus that causes the disease. Over the course of two weeks in March, the lab retooled. At a time when testing for the virus has been a critical failing in the U.S. response to the pandemic, Broad says it now has the capacity to run 35,000 tests per day. Broad is one of several genomics labs across the country that have reinvented themselves as COVID-19 testing centers. Machines that routinely decoded the 3 billion letters that make up a person’s genetic blueprint have been quickly brought to bear on the coronavirus’ 30,000-letter genome. “It was just a matter of tweaking the laboratory procedures,” said Eric Green, director of the National… Read full this story
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