A new DNA sequencer at Aarhus University Hospital doubles the speed of performing whole-genome sequencing. This will benefit children with cancer because time is crucial to find the right treatment.

Department of Molecular Medicine (MOMA) at Aarhus University Hospital performs DNA sequencing for all hospitals in Central Denmark Region. All patients with rare diseases benefit from the new machine at MOMA providing faster responses to DNA analyses.

Cancer treatment of children

Sometimes children with cancer do not have any effect of the standard treatment or cancer comes back after the standard treatment has ended. I such cases, the doctors can order DNA sequencing of a tissue sample from the cancer tumour.

The DNA sequencing determines which genes can explain why the cancer does not disappear after standard treatment. Some patients can then be offered treatment with medicine specifically focused on the cancer genes that make the cancer cells grow.

Torben Stamm Mikkelsen, MD at Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine has used DNA sequencing in many children with cancer. He is delighted that the response time is now faster:

- Time is always crucial in cancer treatment. When we have a child with no effect of the standard treatment, it is absolutely decisive to find a new effective treatment fast and with as few side effects as possible.

Development of medicine focused on specific genes or faulty genes is advancing rapidly. Using medicine specifically tailored to affect the genes that cause cancer in the individual patients is called targeted treatment of personalised medicine.

More children are expected to be cured

Torben Mikkelsen, MD at Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital follows a DNA sequencing.

Torben Stamm Mikkelsen hopes to cure all children with cancer with the new treatment methods:

- About 20% of children with cancer have no effect or too little effect of the standard treatment. I believe we can do better with the new genetic sequencing methods because we constantly improve our knowledge of what causes cancer in children.

Torben Stamm Mikkelsen also points out the benefits of sequencing determining if the cancer is caused by hereditary factors. This knowledge makes it possible to follow the child during childhood and find out if the child develops other types of cancer. It may also be relevant to examine if family members are carriers of the same faulty cancer gene. About 10% of the children with cancer have cancer as a result of a fault in one of approximately 150 cancer genes.

Bas Verhoef, Head of Region, Europe, Illumina says:

- We are delighted that the Department of Molecular Medicine (MOMA) at Aarhus University Hospital has taken delivery of the first NovaSeq™ X Plus instrument in Denmark and invested in this innovative technology to meet its long-term goal of introducing whole genome sequencing as part of routine care.

- With its powerful new chemistry, the NovaSeq X series enables our customers to maximize their productivity with faster, more powerful, and more sustainable sequencing that will help Danish researchers find better treatments for seriously ill children and adults who are likely to have a rare genetic disorder or suffer from certain specific cancers.

About DNA sequencing

Each human being has a unique genetic code, which determines e.g., our physical appearance. Most variations in the genetic code do not affect our health, but some variations destroy genes and cause various diseases. Variations in selected genes may predispose development of cancer.

That is why DNA sequencing is used in e.g., rare diseases, cancer in children or in suspected hereditary diseases in fetal state.

DNA sequencing is the reading of the genetic code of the DNA – this means that the sequence is determined. Sequencing the entire DNA of a person is called whole-genome sequencing. Sometime only a part of a specific gene is sequenced.


About the sequencer Illumina NovaSeq X Plus
  • Output Range~165 Gb - 16 Tb
  • Single reads per run1.6 billion - 52 billion
  • Read length2 × 150 bp
  • Run time~13 hr - 48 hr