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Signal Detection Development for Sequence Specific SCODA

  • Project Leaders: Andre Marziali
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $783476
  • Program/Competition: Proof of Concept
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Status: Closed

Building on previously funded research, this project aimed to develop a rapid, point of care DNA and RNA sequence detection instrument for diagnosis of infections. This collaborative project explored the key technological risks in the development of such a device, which were primarily associated with the sensitivity and parallelization of the detection system. Due to lack of information infections are often treated based on patient history leading to unnecessary use of powerful antibiotics and patient isolation.

The work is based on the ssSCODA (Sequence-Specific Synchronous Coefficient of Drag Alteration) technology which is capable of rapidly isolating and detecting target DNA with an enrichment ratio of over 10,000x against background DNA. The DNA purification technology is at the heart of a growing UBC spin-off company, Boreal Genomics Inc.

The recent work has helped Boreal to de-risk the unknown mutation detection technology and the promising early resultshelped Boreal secure $18 M in its series C financing in September 2013. As a result, Boreal has expanded its employee count, including staff at it’s Los Altos CA office, increasing British Columbia’s and Canada’s presence in the Silicon Valley.

Boreal released its OnTarget™ platform in 2014 to detect unknown mutations as a result of the promise of the unknown mutation detection work. Several large diagnostics companies have also expressed interest in the unknown mutation detection technology, and discussions will continue to explore commercial opportunities.