Healthtech startup Fusion Genomics has received $1 million to conduct a clinical study evaluating its genomic diagnostics platform in collaboration with the Toronto-based Sunnybrook Research Institute.
“This study offers Fusion Genomics and our exceptional collaborators the opportunity to begin transforming the diagnosis of RTIs.”
The Vancouver-based company’s new study is being funded through the CQDM Quantum Leap program, which supports projects that accelerate or facilitate drug discovery and development. American multinational pharmaceutical company Merck is supporting the study as a member of CQDM. The one-year project will evaluate the ability of Fusion Genomics’ platform, ONETest, to identify pathogens responsible for respiratory tract infections (RTI) in a hospital setting.
“This study offers Fusion Genomics and our exceptional collaborators the opportunity to begin transforming the diagnosis of RTIs, and thereby reduce the tremendous burden of these infections on both patients and the hospitals that treat them,” said Mohammad Qadir, president and chief scientific officer of Fusion Genomics.
The Global Burden of Disease Study indicated that in 2015, lower respiratory tract infections were the leading infectious cause of death and the fifth-leading cause of death overall. Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist at Sunnybrook and scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute, said the study will allow the partners to develop technologies that can distinguish the root causes of RTIs quickly and accurately.
The project will involve researchers at Fusion Genomics and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, who will use an RTI-specific version of the ONETest assessment, called ONETest RTI, in order to examine samples from about 800 patients with RTI. The organizations will then compare their results against conventional testing methods. Researchers will also evaluate samples from healthy individuals to distinguish relevant respiratory pathogens from those that are benign.
Founded in 2013, Fusion Genomics combines its genetic capture technology with Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), a fast way to sequence DNA and RNA, to create genomic testing for pathogens. The ONETest platform has been certified by international laboratories on behalf of the European Union and several Canadian public health agencies.
“CQDM is pleased to support this project because we believe it will provide valuable insights to help reduce the morbidity and cost associated with RTIs,” said Diane Gosselin, president and CEO of CQDM. “In addition, this study will be the first of its kind to test a targeted NGS assay [an investigative procedure in laboratory medicine] with broad coverage of upper respiratory pathogens in a hospital setting during an outbreak season.”
Fusion Genomics is currently working on another type of assessment, the ONETest RAPID, for use on the ONETest platform. This uses an enhanced version of its QuantumProbes technology and aims to provide direct sample-to-DNA-sequencing in under four hours.
Image source Fusion Genomics