BioPad supports ACGT microarray facility

The Biotechnology Partnership and Development (BioPAD) is supporting a microarray platform project at the ACGT Microarray Facility at the University of Pretoria. Established under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology and its National Biotechnology Strategy, BioPAD activities are aimed at establishing a sustainable biotechnology industry in South Africa and helping to meet the regions biotechnology challenges.

The microarray platform project aims to increase human capacity in applying microarray technology in the BioPAD region by involving researchers and technical assistants at University of Pretoria, the University of Witwatersrand and Inqaba Biotechnical Industries Pty (Ltd).

A service pipeline will be developed to efficiently support small to large microarray projects in the BioPAD region. Selected individuals will be trained in all aspects of microarrays, from spotter operation, design choice, experimental procedure and data analysis to result confirmation. Ongoing projects based on whole genome and cDNA library microarrays will form the basis of the training. During the course of this project, a microarray experiment will be completed which will compare the spotted oligonucleotide microarray platform to cDNA microarrays.

Trainees are on board from the Universities of Pretoria and the Witwatersrand, as well as from Inqaba Biotechnical Industries Pty (Ltd), and deliverables have been completed in all three Workpackages (WPs).

A Standard Operating Procedure for the Array Spotter has been compiled as the outcome of WP1 (Protocol Development), while WP2 (Training) has seen trainees receiving instruction in Microarray Experimental Design, microarray protocols, PCR amplification of cDNA clones in preparation for DNA sequencing, DNA sequencing, and BLAST searching.

In WP3 (Support for Projects in the BioPAD region) the project team and Microarray Scientific Officer, Danie Theron, have provided short courses in Microarray laboratory methods (“starter kit”), introductory data analysis and walk-in support to scientists from the following institutions: the University of Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg, National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the University of Kwazulu-Natal Medical School, CSIR-BioSciences Unit (Pretoria and Modderfontein), the University of Pretoria Departments of Genetics, Statistics, Physiology (Medical), Microbiology and Plant Pathology, Botany and Biochemistry.