The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and UAB Hospital Laboratories have launched the Genomics Diagnostics Lab to enable UAB to expand upon its offering of genomic diagnostic testing.
Alexander “Craig” Mackinnon, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., professor and director, Division of Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics, said, “This facility is absolutely required to meet our clinicians’ immediate needs and expectations for molecular testing.
““This newly renovated lab is a bridge providing urgently needed space in the immediate near term. The next phase brings in additional partners, including Clinical Genetics and Pediatric Microbiology, as the labs integrate. The GDL will greatly increase the scale, scope, and efficiency of genetic testing at UAB.”
The GDL recently acquired a Genexus Integrated Sequencer, made by Thermo Fisher Scientific, to conduct rapid next-generation sequencing. The GDB will begin by developing and validating two panels with close to 100 genetic markers, but aim to expand this to more than 500 gene panels by late 2021.
“The larger the gene panel, the greater the likelihood of hitting the specific biomarkers that clinicians are looking for, such as tumor mutation burden,” said Shuko Harada, M.D., head of the Molecular Diagnostics section of the GDB Division, whose team will lead the effort to develop and validate assays using the larger, more extensive panels.
The instrument’s test results help physicians determine optimal therapies for patients by identifying genetic variants in a patient’s tumor, often linked to specific therapies.
“The newly renovated space is the first step toward establishing a joint partnership of key UAB stakeholders to establish a freestanding genomic diagnostics lab with the capacity to service our state and our region, improving patient care for the greater Birmingham area and beyond by implementing the latest technologies and clinical expertise to make precision medicine more accessible,” Mackinnon said.
Find out more about the GDL from UAB News here.