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BugSeq Bioinformatics Nabs BARDA Grant to Develop NGS-Based Respiratory Test

NEW YORK – BugSeq Bioinformatics announced on Tuesday that it has received funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop a next-generation sequencing-based test for all respiratory RNA viruses.

The grant from BARDA's Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures is for an undisclosed amount and will be used to optimize a test for commercial clinical use by lowering the turnaround time to less than 12 hours, reducing interference from host RNA, and analytically validating the platform with both contrived and clinical respiratory samples. The agnostic test, which will run on Oxford Nanopore's sequencing technology, is intended to cover all existing and new respiratory RNA viruses.

BugSeq is working with researchers from the University of British Columbia to build off previous work where the team demonstrated the ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 using a portable, NGS-based test, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement. 

"Widely distributed NGS-based agnostic diagnostic capabilities could enable early identification of infections from pathogens of concern and could also provide a broad capability to identify and track variants as they arise," it added.

The startup has developed a method of detecting pathogens using metagenomic nanopore sequencing that doesn't need to target specific pathogens. 

BARDA has also partnered with the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Jumpcode Genomics, and the University of California San Francisco Clinical Microbiology Lab to develop similar NGS-based respiratory tests.