ORLANDO, Florida – Dovetail Genomics, a chromatin conformation capture assay developer, has combined with Arc Bio, a sibling company that offers metagenomic microbial detection technology, to form Cantata Bio.
In addition to announcing the merger, Cantata is launching a new Tn5 transposase-based proximity ligation assay called TopoLink at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology annual meeting this week, which the firm said cuts sample prep time from two days to six hours. The TopoLink product offering is geared toward researchers performing loop calling, the detection of chromatin loops in the genome.
Hi-C is a sequencing-based assay for chromosome conformation, or 3D genome structure. Various Hi-C methods link different fragments of the genome (or of different genomes, in metagenomics), providing so-called “long range” connections between those regions, which exceed the read lengths available through sequencing, especially on short-read platforms, such as Illumina. Early applications for Hi-C data included plant and animal genome assembly, where contact maps help improve contigs.
Other companies offering Hi-C assays include Arima Genomics, a spinout from Bing Ren’s lab at the University of California, San Diego, and Phase Genomics.
The formation of Cantata Bio brings together two firms that CEO Todd Dickinson has been leading for the past seven years. EdenRoc Sciences, where he is on the board of directors, was the parent company for both firms. Cantata Bio will have three business segments: epigenetics and genome structure, microbial profiling, and genetic analysis solutions. The first two segments more or less correspond to the old Dovetail and Arc businesses, respectively. The third represents forays into structural rearrangement detection and haplotyping, which Dickinson predicted would be an area for growth, adding that the firm is “really interested in partnering with pharma.”
Some of those pharma customers helped provide the germ of an idea that led to the merger. “We were seeing cross-fertilization where we might be talking to a cancer company that is really interested in chromatin conformation changes or signatures associated with cancer early detection who would also show interest in microbial profiling,” he said.
“We started to notice that our customers were overlapping,” he added. “I would be in one meeting with a customer on a Dovetail call and found myself saying, ‘Have you heard of my other company?’”
The merger brings operational efficiencies to the company and a bigger catalog of assays to customers. The company “let go a couple of people,” Dickinson said, but he noted that the firm is planning to hire more staff in other areas. He declined to provide information on company revenues.
Cantata’s first product launch is TopoLink, which is helping the firm move away from restriction enzymes that use sequence motifs to fragment DNA.
This helps provide higher uniformity of coverage, Cantata Director of Marketing Iain Russell said, as well as deliver next-generation sequencing library prep tags concurrently.
“The ability to deliver those tags in a single step along with fragmentation is a critical piece of how we take a two-day assay down to six hours,” he said.
Cantata has designed the kit to simplify sample prep for loop calling, which requires high sequencing depth and therefore multiple libraries per sample. With TopoLink, a single proximity ligation reaction should create four sequencing libraries, Russell said, whereas previously, customers might have to run four reactions to create eight libraries. “It is both more rapid and reduces the number of reactions you have to perform to get the depth of sequencing that is required,” he added.
The product has not yet been released, and Dickinson declined to comment on pricing. Russell suggested total costs could be half as much as an alternative method. Cantata is taking orders and targeting shipment in July. It has reached out to early adopters to grant them access to the first kits.