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J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge – Go Health!

Health Gene Technologies is very excited to have taken part in the Shanghai J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge 2014.

In the end there were:

“A capacity crowd of 8,200 runners and walkers from 240 companies took part in the 4th annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Shanghai on October 23.”

All the money collected during the run will be donated to charity!

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So… how does one actually test genes?

There are several techniques that are used for genetic disease susceptibility testing. Those are: gene sequencing, microarrays, quantitative PCR, real-time quantitative PCR, multiplex PCR, etc. The multiplex is a current winner in the hospitals, it is also the core technology of Health Gene Technologies.

So, why is this PCR (or Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology taking the lead in revolutionizing the nowadays clinical testing? ① In simple language, it is more efficient than the other technologies. Or in other words, this technology uses multiplex primer pairs; the increase in the number of primer pairs in turn provides the chance to amplify a plurality of nucleic acid fragments in ONE PCR reaction. ② It’s well-structured. Sometimes testing one element is a disease group is just not good enough. Multiplex PCR technology has made sure that several elements can be tested at the same time, to solve difficult and messy situations in testing of HPV, respiratory virus diseases, HCV, or even the creation of forensic profiles. ③ It saves money. By ‘multiplexing’ the testing, it saves money for the laboratories, the hospitals, and the end users. E.g. Health Gene Tech has developed an HPV kit, which tests 25 HPV viruses at the same time, which means that we save the price of 24 separate tests for everybody!

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The unique nature of multiplex PCR can be applied to a variety of situations: biological research, pathogen detection, sex selection, genetic disease diagnosis, forensic research and gene deletion, mutation and polymorphism analysis, and even more difficult-sounding uses. Saying goodbye to the olden days when patients were little white rabbits and had lots of impersonalized medicine tested on them, PCR technology makes it easy to understand each and every patient’s genetic structure and allocate medicine according to that. It means that with a simple blood sample the doctors can understand the way a patient’s body will react to different medicine. This can sometimes even make a difference between life and death. Reagent kits (kits that tell the technology what part of the DNA it should look at), do exactly that. SureX Respiratory Virus Multiplex Kit (check it out here: http://en.healthgenetech.com/_d275215380.htm), can detect 13 major respiratory diseases in one reaction. It means that the doctors do not have to guess which respiratory virus you’ve caught when travelling, and can instead locate the virus and promptly assign proper treatment.

Multiplex PCR technology can detect several DNA sequences in one reaction tube simultaneously, which not only economizes samples and reagents (go green!), but also simplifies lab operations to save time and energy of your doctors. This highly specific multiplex PCR technology has a great significance for gene detection and clinic diagnosis of pathogens.


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In search of virus traces

Recent years have witnessed a flux of films that talk about viral outbreaks: ‘Resident Evil’, ‘I am Legend’, ‘Outbreak’, etc. Although it is obvious, the film is an exaggeration, it is also very true that the viruses are a scary phenomenon affecting the population of the world with unexpected outbreaks and, sometimes, unknown treatment methods.

Many human diseases are caused by viruses, such as influenza, diarrhea, hepatitis B, meningitis, AIDS, cancer and so on. Although the viruses may have great potential for destruction, but from the history of human development, we also see that the humanity also has a way to go against it. It is slowly discovered that viral infections do not herald the end of life, it does often depend on how quickly viruses that infected patients are detected and treated. It is also absolutely crucial for the medical community to closely monitor large-scale infectious disease outbreaks. The virus can live inside the cells, its structure is petite, unobservable with the naked eye. After so many years of medical technology development, the scientists have finally found some ways to find traces of the virus:

  1. Virus isolation method. This is a kind of a classical method – the detection of viruses is based on the use of animal culture, embryo culture. This method is still in use these days. However, it is challenging to standardize it as technical staff need protective measures and have to undergo extensive training. Thus, the use of the method is subject to certain restrictions.
  2. Immunological detection methods. These include hemagglutination assay, hemagglutination inhibition tests, immunofluorescence, ELISA, chemiluminescence immunoassay, etc. It is primarily the antigen or antibody labeled by a marker, the method uses the antigen and antibody binding and then sends a signal to detect the virus. This is a class of methods for rapid detection of the virus, and it is widely used in clinical applications. The biggest difficulty for this method is that the market still cannot meet the need to test that many antigen-antibodies, also, the high false negative rate can result in many of those slipping through undetected.
  3. Real-time PCR technology. This method uses real-time monitoring of the fluorescence signal during PCR and in vitro replication of the virus by nucleic acid amplification to detect the presence or absence of information about the virus. Such method is sensitive, and can also use multi-tube amplification to achieve multiple testing. It is a method presently used by the medical community.
  4. AFA technology. This is a new generation of fragment analysis techniques that combines both PCR and capillary electrophoresis methods for amplifying nucleic acid sequences of pathogens isolated quantitatively, enabling the virus genotyping AND quantification. Such method can not only detect viruses with high sensitivity, but can also detect up to 40 virus types at the same time, the research result of which can be shown on a single picture, judgment made according to the peak heights.
Picture taken from Health Gene Technologies website: http://en.healthgenetech.com/TechnologyAFA.htm

Picture taken from Health Gene Technologies website:
http://en.healthgenetech.com/TechnologyAFA.htm

5.  High-throughput detection technology. Such as microarray technology and sequencing techniques. The main technique is to integrate a large number of chips of different nucleic acids or protein probes on a carrier surface, hybridization with the sample in order to determine the type of the virus. Nucleic acid sequence analysis can provide vast amounts of data, not all of which may be useful. The sequencing technology takes the workload of the scientists’ shoulders and automatically analyses the data – this method is more applicable to scientific research. The method has advantage of high throughput. It is expensive and unfortunately cannot be easily repeated.

Every technology has its own advantages, and should be adapted according to the requirements of specific medical centres. Some technologies might, however, become redundant with time.


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The magical double helix and AFA (Advanced Fragment Analysis)

The magic helix appears everywhere in our lives: springs, screws, inner caps, spiral staircases, etc. In the world of biology it is also one of the most commonly appearing forms. Our biological inheritance in the form of DNA is also expressed in this form. In this article, we will explore the details of the double helix in the DNA.

DNA molecules exhibit a relatively stable double helix structure, deoxyribose and phosphate groups are alternately connected to the main chain via an ester bond, the two main chain circles around the common axis are parallel to each other to form the double helix structure. The base is located inside of the coil, which is connected through a glycosidic bond to the backboneglycosyl. In addition, any two bases (A with T, G and C) should be paired by hydrogen bonding. Each helical unit of DNA molecules includes 10 base pairs, 3.4 nm in length, having the spiral diameter of 2 nm. The molecular structure of the model was completed in 1953 by Watson and Crick, and published in “Nature” magazine.

So why was this complex structure chosen by the nature as the carrier of the genetic information? Firstly, the base of hydrogen bonding, the interaction between the longitudinal and the base of the outer side of the double helix formation of ionic bonds are formed to strengthen the stability of the DNA double helix molecule. Also, the University of Pennsylvania’s American physicist Randall Kamen thinks that the helix structure of the DNA is gathered in a relatively crowded space (a tiny cell) in order to not only make the information closely-bonded, but also to make better use of cellular DNA internal resources for replication and transcription.

Discovery of this structure in the field of molecular biology was the discovery of the epoch. The two main chains are believed to be complimentary to each other. According to one of the most prominent DNA theories by Francis Crick, in the DNA replication process, one strand of a DNA is used as a template for the replication process. In 1986, building on the theory, an American scientist Kary Mullis invented the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – the principle which uses complementary base pairing with the single-stranded primer, and by the action of DNA polymerase as well as gradually extending a complementary chain, results in vitro DNA replication. In other words, Mullins gave the world the discovery of how to artificially produce DNA. The discovery has seen rapid development in these years: based on the PCR technology, a number of techniques were developed, such as reverse transcription PCR, PCR-RFLP, multiplex PCR and quantitative PCR, etc. Nowadays, real-time PCR is widely used in the field of life science and medical research; some studies have also introduced multiplex detection of fluorescence for quantitative PCR. The future prospect of this technology is significantly simplifying operations by achieving single-tube multiplex amplification. One of the most recent technologies in this field is AFA (advanced fragment analysis) technology, which combines multiplex PCR and capillary electrophoresis. Up to 40 targets to be amplified and detected in a single tube, greatly improving the detection efficiency, and saving time and resources. The magic nature of the helix structure let us witness some extremely impressive technological developments, and, hopefully, it will keep on surprising us in the future!