Oxford biotechnology spin-out company Base Genomics has been acquired by the US early cancer detection company Exact Sciences for $410 million.
Base Genomics, which was launched in June 2020, is based on Dr Chunxiao Song’s innovative TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS) technology.
Dr Song is an Assistant Member of the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. His research has received funding from the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), as well as Cancer Research UK.
TAPS is a new method for measuring DNA methylation, a chemical modification on cytosine bases. DNA methylation is frequently altered in cancer and these altered DNA methylation levels are preserved in the small amounts of DNA that are released into the blood from cancer cells.
With its enhanced sensitivity over the standard methodology for measuring DNA methylation, TAPS has great potential as the basis for a multi-cancer blood test.
This is a big step forwards,” said Base Genomics co-founder and chemistry lead, Dr Yibin Liu, who co-invented the technology while a post-doc at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Oxford Branch. “This acquisition by Exact Sciences will enable us to accelerate the clinical and commercial development of Base Genomics and unlock a new era for early cancer detection.”
Exact Sciences will continue to build on the Base Genomics team in Oxford, creating a world-leading research centre for early stage cancer detection.
“I am thrilled that the TAPS technology developed in my lab has received this level of investment. We can now proceed much more rapidly to fully leverage the power of this technology for cancer detection and patient benefit,” said Dr Chunxiao Song, Base Genomics co-founder.
TAPS continues to be developed in Dr Song’s lab, for example it was recently adapted for long-read sequencing, to further its application to other fields of biomedical research.