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Patrick Descombes, Ph.D.

Platform Manager - The Genomics Platform  |  National Centre of Compe­tence in Research "Frontiers in Genetics" - University of Geneva (former position)

A Core Lab Enhances and Expands its Services

The mission of the Genomics Platform is both to provide access to genomics technologies as well as to offer a complete solution for its customers, from advice on experimental design to full data analysis services. The lab provides service not only to the University of Geneva and Hospital, but also to other academic and private laboratories across Switzerland and Europe, and is hoping to expand its offering to customers outside of Europe as well.

Dr. Descombes heads up a busy team of seven, including laboratory technicians and data analysts, handling up to 200 projects a year. “When we heard about NanoString Technologies we thought it would really fill a niche that was missing between our large-scale discovery tools such as microarrays and next-generation sequencing, and real-time PCR validation. NanoString enables us to do more measurements at a time than real-time PCR with the same or better sensitivity and precision.”

The facility completed its trial validation of the nCounter Analysis System one year ago, and has since processed more than 700 samples on the system.

“We, and our customers, are really happy and amazed by the quality of the data,” said Dr. Descombes. “Further, we can collect much larger datasets that are very high quality in much less time and with limited amounts of samples. This is extremely beneficial for research because we can perform projects in days that would otherwise take months.”

Dr. Descombes also expressed his appreciation that the nCounter Analysis System was robust and easy to use. “This is really a plug and play system, and for those of us in a core lab this is extremely important. We also like the fact that the technology is using RNA directly without any enzymatic conversion to cDNA, without any amplification or anything else that can introduce biases. This is exciting because it provides greater results with a simpler workflow.”

“Here in Geneva, the University Hospital has a great interest in using the NanoString technology for diagnostics to replace other technologies like microarrays,” explained Descombes. “We are planning to look at interactions between bacteria and the infected cells using the nCounter Analysis System to follow the response of pathogens and the host cells over time, over a treatment course, and under different conditions. The NanoString technology is ideally suited for such a project.”