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Karius, eGenesis to Develop Infectious Disease Diagnostics for Xenotransplantation

NEW YORK – Liquid biopsy firm Karius announced on Monday that it has entered a partnership with genome engineering company eGenesis to develop infectious disease diagnostics for xenotransplantation, initially from porcine to primates and eventually to humans.

Redwood City, California-based Karius will expand its microbial cell-free DNA detection platform for surveillance and diagnosis of potential infection in both the porcine organ donor and recipient before and after the transplant, the firms said in a statement. Karius and eGenesis, which develops human-compatible organs and cells for the treatment of organ failure, will collaborate on developing the expanded platform. The companies plan to complete development by early 2024, they said. 

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

Karius' platform can be modified to include new pathogens of human and pig origin, the companies added. The firm's Karius Test for infectious disease detection in immunocompromised and recent transplant patients received approval from the New York State Department of Health's Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program in 2021. 

"While we are taking numerous measures to ensure our porcine donors are free from infectious agents, the ability to broadly monitor for infection transmission between species is important for ensuring the safety of xenotransplantation," eGenesis CEO Michael Curtis said in a statement. "With our gene-editing technology, we have an unprecedented ability to engineer human compatible organs to address the organ shortage, and this partnership is a key step in our goal to make xenotransplantation safe."

The eGenesis Genome Engineering and Production Platform uses gene editing tech to inactivate all detectable copies of endogenous retrovirus sequences within the porcine genome to prevent the virus being passed from the organ donor to the recipient, the firms said. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company raised $38 million in a Series A financing round in 2017.