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Phase Genomics Receives $1.5M NIH Grant to Develop Microbiome Research Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Phase Genomics said today that it has received a two-year, $1.5 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop an affordable, high-throughput Hi-C kit and computational analysis platform for microbiome research and discovery.

The firm said it had previously received a Phase I SBIR grant from the NIAID as well as an investment from WRF Capital and Congruent Ventures to develop the platform.

"Phase Genomics' Hi-C-based proximity ligation technology … lets us assemble whole genomes from microbiome samples with no prior information. It solves the massive problem of understanding the genetics of organisms that cannot be cultured, which is the lion's share of microbes living in the environment," Phase Cofounder and CEO Ivan Liachko said in a statement.

He also noted that the kit is compatible with fecal, clinical, and environmental samples, as well as air pollutants, and generates several novel genomes per sample.

The grant will be used to overcome the current throughput limitations of proximity ligation to make the technology cheaper and more accessible to a wide range of researchers, Phase added.

The company released early data demonstrating the potential of its Hi-C proximity chromatin capture-based "ProxiMeta" approach for deconvoluting microbial genomes from complex metagenomic samples in October 2017. It started offering a ProxiMeta service in May of last year and said at the time that it planned to develop the platform into a kit.