The first reaction to the picture is usually ‘yuck’. This is a picture of an actual sample of wetland mud from which the team at Fusion Genomics was asked to detect bird flu virus. It is a very ‘dirty’ sample source as it contains numerous micro-organisms and a stew of chemicals, making it a true ‘mission impossible.’ Using our ONETestTM technology we were not only able to detect bird flu but also to identify its specific strain (genotyping) and in some cases, to reconstruct genetic sequences. The information gathered can be used by the Government to keep a close eye on the types of bird flu circulating in the wild bird population and to give timely warning if a strain that is dangerous to chickens or humans is present.
FUSION GENOMICS is a Vancouver-based company that is advancing molecular diagnostics by developing tests for disease-causing pathogens using their proprietary ONETestTM technology platform in combination with Next Generation Sequencing. The platform has been validated by institutes and organizations from around the world, including laboratories working on behalf of the Canadian government, World Health Organization and the European Union. The patent-pending technology enables Fusion to develop comprehensive, targeted tests for mutating viruses and bacteria. The platform consists of:
- QUANTUMProbesTM – synthetic machine-learning designed oligo-nucleotides which are able to capture constantly evolving bacteria and viruses with up to 20% genetic distance.
- UNIPrepTM – a proprietary chemical protocol in development, designed to produce an enriched sequenceable sample (library) from a variety of sample sources (blood, Nasal wash, NP swab, etc.) in eight to twelve hours. The library can then be sequenced using any of the current NGS instruments (most commonly Illumina MiSeq & NextSeq or Ion S5).
- FUSIONCloudTM – our cloud-based database and analytic suite that provides comprehensible results from the sequence data in as little as 5 minutes.
Fusion is now using the technology to develop a solution to one of the most pressing problems in human infectious diseases: failure of current diagnostics to identify pathogen/disease in a patient who is ill. Every year, approximately 7.8 million patients with undiagnosed (idiopathic) infections are admitted to hospitals in the US. The only option is to treat these patients with broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy and hope for the best. This inability to obtain the most “actionable” information in a clinical relevant time-frame, combined with ineffective treatment contributes to increased disease burden, mortality, hospitalizations, and drug resistance. Resultant direct hospitalization costs in the US alone are more than $27 billion. What is urgently needed is precise and comprehensive pathogen identification, including genotyping and the capacity to detect drug-resistant variants, for routine diagnosis to support effective treatment and control measures.
Fusion’s solution is to develop a pan-pathogen test – the ONETestTM PathoGenome – that identifies all known human pathogens (~1,400) and that will provide the genomic information necessary for treatment including drug resistance and host (human) susceptibility markers. This test will be functionally equivalent yet clinical superior to the most powerful diagnostic methodology of whole metagenome sequencing at 1/10th the cost, 1/3rd the time and several hundred times the sensitivity. The test will bring precision medicine to the mass clinical market, will save lives and reduce medical costs.
Fusion Genomics is currently raising a Series A to fund the complete development of the ONETest™ PathoGenome. The funds will enable the company to launch the product on a “Research Use Only” basis and complete multiple tests of clinical validity which will feed into the regulatory approval process. Accredited investors are invited to contact the company for further details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author of this article Akmal Jameel, CFA is the Chief Financial Officer of Fusion Genomics Corp.