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Jumpcode Genomics, TGen Partner to Test Metagenomic Approaches for COVID Detection

NEW YORK – Genome technology company Jumpcode Genomics said on Tuesday that it is collaborating with the Translational Genomics Research Institute to aid investigations into the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, the partners are validating solutions and clinical services that use metagenomic sequencing and analysis to detect COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The partners are using Jumpcode's CRISPRclean technology, which combines CRISPR-based technology with next-generation sequencing to deplete unwanted nucleic acid sequences from a sample, in order to increase the sensitivity and efficiency of sequencing. The company believes that this approach enables researchers to collect more relevant data about the nature of an infection and identify its unique aspects.

In April, Jumpcode and TGen teamed up to add the company's CRISPRclean sample prep kit to an NGS-based SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic that the institute is developing.

TGen said it's still testing the potential of Jumpcode's CRISPRclean-mediated depletion reagents in combination with technologies from the lab of the institute's deputy director, Nicholas Schork, including protocols for the diagnostic assay using the CRISPRclean reagents and algorithms for analyzing the resulting metagenomic sequence data. The partners are also conducting expanded prospective clinical and epidemiological studies to prove the diagnostic's utility in routine patient testing for various infectious diseases.

Certain aspects of this approach were recently validated using a set of reference samples in which the infection status and severity of the infection were known, Jumpcode and TGen added. Now, TGen researchers are studying COVID-19 samples previously evaluated by PCR tests to assess the sensitivity and specificity of the metagenomic diagnostic against standard PCR-based tests.

"Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 can play a vital role in diagnosing infection, identifying new variants of the virus and related viruses, and tracking the spread of existing strains, as well as informing public health efforts to prevent future infectious disease outbreaks," Schork said in a statement. "Using Jumpcode's CRISPRclean technology for enhancing metagenomic sequencing, we're able to not only detect a SARS-CoV-2 infection, but also any co-infections, and/or associated human host responses to infection."