Transforming 16S Sequencing

Dr Winnard joined Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) company, YouSeq on a NBIC funded internship from in the summer of 2019. He was tasked with taking a new prototype for a next generation sequencing (NGS) kit, for identifying bacteria in a mixed population, through to commercial product launch.

The kit is based on a method known as 16S sequencing, which reads a region of the bacterial genome known as the 16 rRNA and then identifies which bacteria are present based on genomic information. 16S sequencing already exits, however the workflows are cumbersome and require long, highly skilled hours on the bench-side.  YouSeq’s new prototype transforms that complex workflow in to a very simple closed-tube system that any technician can perform with ease.

Performing detailed studies on sensitivity and specificity, Dr Winnard identified final issues and implemented improvements to make the new kit robust for commercial use and produced good quality data to satisfy the company’s quality standards, resulting in a successful product launch.

He was also involved in the beta version of launch, with trials of the kit occurring in the US, South Africa, Portugal and the UK, where he took part in commercial and technical discussions with the company’s first significant customer. During the product launch Dr Winnard also supported the marketing function, which included developing website, the instructions-for-use and creatively contributed to printed content.

After completing his project with YouSeq in early January, Dr Winnard successfully found employment with Novagene, a global NGS service provider. Dr Jim Wicks, YouSeq CEO said,

“The experience he has gained in his time with us has built excellent commercial experience for him and will stand him in good stead at the start of his career. We believe that the product he has worked on will be a powerful research tool for the biofilm research community globally.”

YouSeq are currently undertaking a marketing drive for the product with great hopes for significant commercial success that will bring further income and employment to the local community.