November 18, 2020 – TwinStrand Biosciences has announced today its entry into an agreement to sublicense two foundational patent families to Cambridge, MA-based Foundation Medicine (FMI). This agreement offers FMI the opportunity to use TwinStrand’s Duplex Sequencing error-correction technology.
Duplex Sequencing Technology
With its proprietary Duplex Sequencing Technology, TwinStrand has grown into a 40 person enterprise in four years. Duplex sequencing was developed to reduce the error rate in NGS by sequencing both strands of DNA simultaneously and use the resultant data to double-check either sequence. If a mutation occurs in a strand of DNA, the parallel strand’s sequence can be used for verification. If sequences do not match, then the mutation is likely just a sequencing error. This technique has the ability to lower the error rate of sequencing by up to 10,000 times.
What’s in it for Foundation Medicine?
This jump in sequencing accuracy stands to greatly benefit a company like FMI by providing them a means to increase the reliability of their diagnostic tools. FMI’s FoundationOne®CDx has been FDA approved for more than 20 targeted therapies. Similarly, its liquid biopsy assay, FoundationOne®Liquid CDx, has bagged eight FDA approvals in a short duration.
FMI describes itself as a “molecular information company dedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed by a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient’s unique cancer.” FMI’s approach is to use genetic information to identify targeted therapies to best suit their patients. This individualized focus of treatment requires incredibly accurate genomic data to be worthwhile. Licensing a technology that minimizes errors by distinguishing sequencing errors from real mutations would make FMI’s goal all the more attainable.
The Duplex sequencing can also be applied to identifying residual disease and chemical-induced mutagenesis in humans. This detection of residual disease has the potential for great application in post-treatment cancer care. The technology can detect one out of millions of cancer cells that might be left behind post-treatment. With this ability, the likelihood of cancer resurgence in an individual goes down significantly.
“Advancing and improving patient care is our highest priority, and we’re pleased to work with partners like TwinStrand who share this same goal,” said Cindy Perettie, CEO of Foundation Medicine. “We look forward to expanding this agreement with TwinStrand to explore additional areas for future collaboration.”
What’s in it for TwinStrand?
When the duplex sequencing technology emerged from the lab, the biochemistry and software’s initial adaptation was still difficult. Since the launch of TwinStrand, the technology was refined and introduced into the market along with a cloud-based software. This caught people’s eyes and increased the visibility of the product. While big players like Roche, Illumina, Promega, and ThermoFisher, are developing error-corrected NGS technologies to compete with TwinStrand, Dr. Salk believes his company can hold its own with the better knowledge base they developed from inventing duplex sequencing.
TwinStrand has a total of 70 patents and patent applications associated with its duplex sequencing and has attracted a lot of interest from a variety of parties. This allows TwinStrandy to showcase their technology and attract collaborations in the future.
“This agreement validates the strength of TwinStrand’s technology and intellectual property portfolio,” said Dr. Jesse Salk, Chief Executive Officer at TwinStrand Biosciences. “We are pleased that Foundation Medicine has partnered with us to use our patented technology to achieve the highest possible performance for liquid biopsy testing.”
By Eduardo Longoria
Editor: Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
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