NOV 03, 2016 06:00 AM PDT

Mutation Detection Simplified: From Liquid Biopsy in clinical oncology to the detection of Drug Resistance Associated Mutations in virology

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  • VP of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer Vela Research
      Dr. Gerd Michel obtained his PhD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he was head of the Receptor Research Laboratory at the Dept. of Internal Medicine. After two years in the private laboratory sector he joined Abbott Laboratories as a founding member of their European Research unit, which grew from 3 to over 600 employees by the time he left. He spent more than 18 years with Abbott Diagnostics rising to the post of Director of Medical and Scientific Development for Europe, Middle East & Africa. Among various management functions he was responsible for OEM product development and the assessment of new technologies. He had numerous product successes including HCV, HIV and cardiac Troponin I tests that became state-of-the-art diagnostics worldwide.

      For over 7 years he held the position of STO at the Foundation of New Innovative Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva. During this time he focused on the discovery of novel biomarkers for use in point-of-care detection of infectious diseases such as TB and malaria, mainly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
      He became Vice President of R&D and Chief Technology Officer at Vela Research in Singapore in 2013, focusing on molecular and personalized diagnostics.

      He has received several industry and academic awards for his work, has (co-) authored >180 peer-reviewed publications and is an internationally requested speaker. He is also an inventor on a number of patents. He holds fellowships from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and the German Cancer Research Centre. He has held a number of advisory posts, e.g. at WHO and the OECD. He served as a member of the German National Blood Advisory Board of the Ministry of Health and is currently a member of several Research Funding Committees e.g. at the Wellcome Trust, London, and the Global Health Innovation Fund, Tokyo, respectively.
    • Director, Vela Research Singapore
        Lou Welebob has over 28 years of combined scientific and commercial experience in the biotechnology and molecular diagnostics industries. Prior to his current position at Vela, Mr. Welebob co-founded and served as the Senior Vice President of Research & Development and Technology at Vela Diagnostics in Singapore from 2011 to 2015. While at Roche Diagnostics Corporation, he served as the Vice President of Global Program Management and Business Development from 2008 to 2011 and as the Vice President of Marketing, Services and Sales from 2005 to 2008. Mr. Welebob also held both scientific and commercial positions in several biotechnology companies and scientific research positions in several pharmaceutical companies.

        He received a B.S. in Chemistry from Wilkes University and was a Member of the National Research Honor Society (Sigma XI). He completed graduate coursework in biochemistry while at the University of Scranton and graduate coursework in chemistry at Rutgers University.


      Sanger sequencing and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods have been the standard molecular methods in clinical diagnostics for decades.  Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology revolutionized the field of genomics, transcriptomics and metagenomics and is now swiftly becoming a routine method in different areas of clinical diagnostics [1,2].

      Vela Diagnostics developed an integrated automated multi-purpose Sentosa® workflow, which consists of:

      1. A customized robotic liquid handling system for nucleic acid extraction, PCR set-up and/ or NGS library preparation (Sentosa® SX101) 
      2. Instruments for real-time PCR or template preparation and deep sequencing
      3. Kits for nucleic acid extraction, real-time PCR-based tests, NGS library preparation assays and reagents for deep sequencing
      4. Flexible and easily customizable assay specific applications
      5. Data analysis and reporting software

      The combined automated qPCR & NGS Sentosa® workflow is a reliable and efficient in-vitro diagnostics tool for the detection and/or quantitation of a wide range of bacterial and viral pathogens as well as gene mutations. The unique ability of the Sentosa workflow is to provide complete & relevant information to aid clinical decision-making and patient management. 
      We’ll look at how this single, rapid workflow may be applied to HIV and HCV, delivering accurate genotyping information and in the detection of drug-resistant mutations.
      We’ll also see how this workflow is able to deliver actionable oncology results using liquid biopsy samples (cfDNA) with utility in NSCLC, CRC, and BRAF mutation detection.

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