Next Generation Sequencing (NGS): Definition and the 5 Step-by-step Process

May 29, 2024

In the fast-paced world of genetics and genomics, technological advancements have revolutionised the way we study and understand the complexities of DNA and RNA. One such groundbreaking technology is Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), a powerful tool that has transformed biological research and clinical diagnostics. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what NGS is, the steps involved and its applications.

What is Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)?

NGS, also known as high-throughput sequencing, refers to a set of automated sequencing technologies that enable the rapid and cost-effective analysis of DNA and RNA molecules. Unlike traditional Sanger sequencing, which processes DNA fragments individually, NGS techniques simultaneously sequence millions of DNA fragments in parallel. 

This parallel processing capability allows researchers to generate vast amounts of sequencing data quickly and efficiently, revolutionising our ability to study the genome and transcriptome.

The 5 Key Steps of Next Generation Sequencing

NGS allows scientists to sequence DNA and RNA much more quickly and cheaply than the previously used Sanger sequencing. The basic steps are:

Nucleic Acid Extraction

The overall workflow for an NGS experiment starts with the isolation of genetic material. Nucleic acids are isolated from samples such as bulk tissue, individual cells, or biofluids. After extraction, most NGS workflows require a QC step.

Library Preparation

The library preparation process involves converting a genomic DNA sample (or cDNA sample) into a library of fragments which can then be sequenced on an NGS instrument

Sequencing

In NGS, sequencing is done in a massively parallel fashion, meaning millions of fragments are sequenced at the same time. Different NGS platforms use different chemistries, but they rely on fluorescently labelled nucleotides to detect the individual bases.

Data Analysis

The raw sequencing data needs to be analysed using bioinformatics tools to align the fragments, detect variants, identify sequences of interest, and more. This step requires powerful computers and expertise in data analysis and statistics.

Interpretation

The final step is interpreting the results. What does the data actually mean? Are there any biologically relevant variants or sequences of interest? Interpretation requires an understanding of genomics, molecular biology, and often the specific research topic.

Types of Next Generation Sequencing-Based Methods 

The Role of NGS in Scientific Development

NGS has a wide range of applications across various fields of research and clinical practice. Here are just a few ways NGS is set to advance the pace and efficiency of research.

  1. Cancer Genomics: NGS enables the identification of somatic mutations, copy number alterations, and fusion genes associated with cancer development and progression. This information is essential for personalised cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment selection.
  2. Infectious Disease Genomics: NGS facilitates the rapid and accurate identification and characterisation of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. It plays a crucial role in infectious disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, and antimicrobial resistance monitoring.
  3. Rare Disease Diagnosis: NGS allows for the identification of disease-causing mutations in individuals with rare genetic disorders. Whole-exome sequencing (WES) and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) can uncover novel disease genes and provide valuable insights into disease mechanisms.
  4. Pharmacogenomics: NGS enables the study of genetic variations that influence drug response and toxicity. Pharmacogenomic testing can guide personalised drug selection, dosage optimisation, and adverse drug reaction prediction.
  5. Microbiome Analysis: NGS facilitates the study of microbial communities inhabiting diverse environments, such as the human gut, soil, water, and air. Microbial sequencing provides insights into microbial diversity, function, and ecological interactions.
  6. Environment: NGS could be used to identify invasive or harmful species and apply this to conservation efforts for endemic species and to unravel resistant genes to pathogens and select populations with such resistant genes in conservation breeding programmes
  7. Agrigenomics: NGS allows for marker-assisted selection of desirable traits and promotes the prosperity of breeding and cultivation programmes. It could be applied at a population level to perform pathogen screening and ensure crop health and yield for cultivation and breeding.
  8. Food Science: NGS could assess the safety of genetically modified microbial strains to produce value-added food products or additives

Next Generation Sequencing Services at Bio Basic Asia Pacific

As a leading brand in Asia’s life sciences and biotechnology industry, Bio Basic Asia Pacific offers a full range of NGS services with varied advantages and bioinformatics analysis. Our NGS services include the following sequencing categories:

  • Epigenomics Sequencing
  • Genomics Sequencing
  • Microbial Genomics Sequencing
  • Pacbio SMRT Sequencing
  • Transcriptomics Sequencing
  • Nanopore Sequencing
  • Single Cell Sequencing

If you are interested in our NGS services, browse our website or send us an email at sg-sequencing@biobasic-asia.com.

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