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Second Genome, Virginia Commonwealth University Partner on NASH Biomarker Discovery

NEW YORK — Second Genome said on Thursday that it has partnered with Virginia Commonwealth University to discover a noninvasive stool-based biomarker for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, an advanced inflammatory form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Second Genome said it will apply its machine learning-based sg-4sight discovery platform to patient samples, clinical metadata, and liver biopsy images provided by VCU in order to identify a composite biomarker that can be used to diagnose NASH patients with advanced fibrosis.

Specifically, Second Genome will characterize the gastrointestinal microbial taxa and microbial transcriptome in NASH and NAFLD patients, identify the composite biomarker, and then clinically validate the model in patients participating in a VCU biorepository or other studies conducted by university collaborators.

"For patients living with NASH who have advanced fibrosis, the current gold standard diagnosis is a highly invasive liver biopsy which can cause major side effects," VCU's Arun Sanyal, who is working with Second Genome on the project, said in a statement. "Second Genome's machine learning capabilities and microbial expertise will be important for developing … a novel noninvasive diagnostic marker."

In early 2020, South San Francisco, California-based Second Genome began working with Gilead Sciences to identify biomarkers for clinical responses to inflammatory bowel disease treatments.