Avida Biomed are an early startup who have developed a novel targeted methylation sequencing technology: Point-n-Seq, for cancer early-detection. Point-n-Seq uses targeted methylation sequencing, which performs enrichment of target molecules directly from cfDNA before bisulfite conversion and amplification. Target panels are small 1-1000 markers. The approach is similar to the one GRAIL report in their recent CCGA paper and respective presentations: identify cancer-specific methylation markers (although Avida Biomed do this from public databases); remove poorly performing biomarkers by analysing performance in healthy controls; then validate an assay that uses the biomarkers that best differentiate between cancer and healthy cfDNA.
Their recent ASCO poster reports detection sensitivity at 0.003% (contrived mix of 0.6 pg (0.2X genome equivalent) methylated DNA in 20 ng cfDNA). Assessed sensitivity as 86% for stage I, 100% for stage (II-IV) at a specificity of 91%, with AUC = 0.96.
In yesterday’s post about MRD detection I said epigenomics is beginning to challenge ultra-deep & UMI error-corrected sequencing with personalised NGS panels. It would not be surprising for Avida Biomed to make a move in that space too so I’ll keep a close eye on the company’s developments.
The team at the helm include Grace Zhao (co-founder and head of R&D at Accuragen), Shengrong Lin (CTO, President and co-funder of Accuragen) and Yun Bao (most recently a Director at IDT). The founders of Avida Biomed were inventors of the Solexa flowcell. Stay tuned for an AACR presentation from the team showcasing performance data for Point-n-Seq and results from an early detection pilot study at the June 22- 24, 2020 virtual meeting.
PS: don’t confuse them with Avida-biotech; who are another start-up but in the anti-viral space.