Local tools for genetics research

With the sequencing of the human genome and other advances in genetic research, genetics is one of the fastest growing research areas in Africa and globally.

Two of the most indispensable tools in a geneticist's kit are DNA sequencing and DNA synthesis. Both are an every-day need for most laboratories working in human, animal, plant, microbial or viral genetics.

NucleotidesThe basics

DNA is made up of the four bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine and a uniform sugar/phosphate backbone. The combination of base, sugar and phosphate is known as a nucleotide. 

Genetic information resides in the sequence of the nucleotides.

Sequences of nucleotides are known as Oligonucleotidesoligonucleotides.  Oligonucleotides can be specially synthesized according to scientists experimental needs with different composition and length.

Below is a model of double stranded DNA, as it exists in all living organisms and also depicting the typical double helical structure. DNA sequencing is the analysis of the nucleotide sequence of a given piece of DNA. The knowledge about the nucleotide sequence of genes is a prerequisite for any molecular approach in basic as well as applied genetics. Doube helix structure of DNA

For scientists in Africa to compete globally in genetics research, DNA synthesis and sequencing services need to be both prompt and cost-effective. In southern Africa, researchers however either rely on university based laboratories or have to look abroad for these services. A young company, Inqaba Biotec has just entered the market offering these services at competitive prices and with the added advantage of speed.   

The entrepreneurs see the local production of these goods as a means of relieving the strong dependency for these products on fluctuating exchange rates. 

A first for Southern Africa, the company offers DNA synthesis and DNA sequencing services. The company based in Pretoria in South Africa, analyses single genes or parts of them, larger pieces that contain several genes (medium-scale) or even complete genomes (large-scale).

For more information, visit: www.inqaba.com


November 2002