Wasatch Biolabs (WBL), a subsidiary of Renew Biotechnologies and a certified Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ laboratory, launches a proprietary Targeted DNA Methylation Sequencing Service for researchers and clinical service providers. The technique is amplification and bisulfite conversion free, effectively bypassing the most common limitations of targeted methylation analysis and enabling WBL to create custom methylation panels that target an unprecedented hundreds-to-thousands of genomic loci of interest with an enrichment of 400-2300x.
The DNA methylation service is being released among WBL’s first wave of Oxford Nanopore-based sequencing services, and is the company’s first big step toward making Oxford Nanopore sequencing and the power of epigenetics more accessible to researchers and healthcare providers.
As a powerful regulator of gene expression, DNA methylation has increasingly become an attractive target for characterizing cells and tissues-of-interest, understanding biological mechanisms, and identifying disease. As a large portion of the growing global epigenetic market, DNA methylation-based approaches are currently being pursued in drug development and diagnostics for cancers, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases, amongst other conditions.
Clinical applications have historically been hindered by available methods to analyze DNA methylation. Bisulfite sequencing, which involves chemical treatment of DNA with sodium bisulfite and PCR amplification, remains the de facto standard for DNA methylation analysis. However, bisulfite conversion is known to damage DNA, and amplification is prone to errors and biases. Because of these limitations, WBL has developed a targeted sequencing protocol that is bisulfite and PCR amplification free.
WBL’s Targeted DNA Methylation Sequencing Service leverages the advantages of Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ sequencing as well as WBL’s exclusive access to a target technology that enables sequencing and base modification analysis at up to 2,000 regions of interest. The Oxford Nanopore platform sequences DNA and RNA in their native forms, which preserves their base modifications, eliminating the need for bisulfite conversion and amplification as well as their associated biases. However, until now, analysis of native DNA and its methylation status has been limited to genome-wide approaches and analysis of targeted loci has been elusive.
WBL’s targeted technology only sequences and assesses base modifications at regions of interest, which reduces costs and increases throughput compared to whole genome methylation approaches. The technology also yields a 400-2300x enrichment depending on the parameters of the assay and a sequencing depth that can be scaled according to researchers’ needs.
WBL’s new technology facilitates more widespread access to the benefits of nanopore sequencing and epigenetic analysis in the US. The tech opens the opportunity for clinical service providers to use WBL’s platform to enhance epigenetics-based diagnostic screening tools, and enables researchers to further explore the methylome, design custom epigenetic assays, and develop additional use cases.
“We hope this targeted technology opens the door for other researchers to innovate and leads to the development of more effective epigenetics-based tools for detecting, tracking, and treating disease,” says Chad Pollard, CEO and Co-Founder of Wasatch Biolabs.
“We are delighted that Wasatch Biolabs has received Oxford Nanopore’s service lab certification. Nanopore sequencing is well-positioned to serve the needs of clinical research lab customers, offering the ability to sequence native DNA and provide richer methylation data and analysis, in an accessible and affordable format,” says Julie Collens, VP Commercial – AMR.
WBL is an R&D and clinical service laboratory based in Heber City, UT that has the capacity to process and sequence up to 200,000 samples per year. In addition to its proprietary DNA methylation sequencing service, WBL also offers other Oxford Nanopore assay-based sequencing services, including whole genome, cDNA, and RNA sequencing, among others, to researchers and clinical service providers. WBL plans to continue innovating proprietary sequencing technology and releasing additional base modification assays and assay-based services as Oxford Nanopore releases new technology.