Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Watchmaker Genomics, Molecular Loop Partner for SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance Assays

NEW YORK – Protein engineering company Watchmaker Genomics and assay developer Molecular Loop have partnered to commercialize genetic tests for pathogen surveillance, the firms said on Thursday.

Boulder, Colorado-based Watchmaker will contribute its expertise in computational biology, high-throughput enzyme engineering, and large-scale enzyme production while Molecular Loop, based in Newton, Massachusetts, will provide molecular inversion probe (MIP)-based assays.

"We believe that our collaboration will result in broader access to a high-performance, customizable assay platform that can support applications in precision medicine, infectious disease, and biomarker discovery," said Trey Foskett, cofounder and CEO of Watchmaker, in a statement.

The MIP assays use redundant probe tiling and a streamlined workflow to eliminate the need for traditional shotgun library preparation, according to the firms, and combine the sensitivity and specificity of hybridization-based target enrichment with the ease and scalability of amplicon-based assays. The technology was initially developed by Good Start Genetics and acquired by Molecular Loop from Invitae in 2018.

Molecular Loop has already launched a SARS-CoV-2 research panel in collaboration with Watchmaker, a sequencing assay that is robust to strain variation.

"Partnering with Watchmaker Genomics allowed us to incorporate customized enzyme formulations and quickly scale up manufacturing to meet the ever-increasing demand from our customers performing critical viral surveillance work," said Eric Boyden, cofounder and head of R&D and innovation at Molecular Loop.

Watchmaker recently also partnered with Twist Bioscience to develop high-throughput sequencing assays for tumor profiling, inherited disease diagnostics, liquid biopsies, and minimal residual disease monitoring.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.