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Argentina – Germany Bilateral call: an Argentinian biotech company is looking for Germany partners, to develop DNA Tags for long-read next generation sequence (NGS) applications with business potential.

Country of Origin: Argentina
Reference Number: RDAR20191004001
Publication Date: 4 October 2019


An Argentina-based biotech startup founded in 2018 develops DNA tags for emerging long-read next generation sequence (NGS) applications that allow biotech SMEs and research enterprises in the genomic clinic arena to seamless scale diagnostics and single-cell sequencing applications over the growing infrastructure of long NGS facilities, with potential to develop a business area.
Germany partners are sought for an R&D agreement in the framework of Argentina – Germany bilateral call.


The company has an interdisciplinary team, with experts in the fields of electrical engineering, computational learning, sequencing technologies, bioinformatics, genetics, and molecular biology, has ample experience in the design of DNA barcodes for multiplex targeted nanopore sequencing applications, and is committed to the design of robust DNA tags for ubiquitous long-read sequencing applications.
There have been large advances in associating specific genomic DNA regions with specific diseases. However, critical genomic regions in complex diseases are often highly repetitive and cannot be accessed with currently widely used short-read NGS technologies. Emerging long-read NGS technologies still hold a significant accuracy loss. In whole-genome applications this loss can be circumvented by highly redundant sequencing strategies. However, loss of accuracy remains a major problem for multiplex targeted sequencing applications dealing with the parallel sequencing of target genomic regions from multiple users. Single-cell sequencing applications, instrumental for precision medicine advancement, also rely on the use of synthetic DNA tags to uniquely identify conspicuous patterns of gene expression associated with specific cells, which can be observed with long-read sequencing technologies. Remarkably, improved single-cell sequencing applications would be feasible with the availability of extremely large sets of barcodes (tens of thousands) robust enough to the extreme error rates of long-read NGS technologies.
The Argentine company has developed synthetic DNA tags capable of barcoding DNA fragments for ubiquitous long-read NGS applications while preserving their identity. This advanced technique enables unprecedented high multiplexing levels with a minimum compromise of the sequencing throughput. The developed barcoding technology comes with quality of service (QoS) metrics allowing fine control of the critical crosstalk error involved in the miss assignment of reads, a unique feature that remarkably eases the analysis of demultiplexed reads.
The company advocates the layered design of sequencing applications as a way to accelerate biological knowledge discovery. The Argentinean biotech firm proposes to apply its innovative barcoding technology to develop an area of high impact: single-cell long-read transcriptomics concerning early diagnostic and clinical applications. The global NGS market is projected to reach 19.7 billion by 2025 from 6.8 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of 19.22%.
The biotech startup will provide all the reagents and technological support to a research team and/or a SME/DNA sequencing facility for its application in concrete research project(s) involving single-cell NGS and/or human-health applications, aiming at developing a potential business area. The search aims at SME enterprises, universities and research institutes, core facilities, research groups, and laboratories with capabilities in the manufacture of long-read sequencing machines and reagents, creators and suppliers of reagents for the life science industry, and manufacturers of synthetic DNA with applications in the biotechnology industry. Attracted partners based in Germany will be interested in developing e.g. long-read complete workflows from sample preparation to data analysis, to be used in the clinic, or be seeking in-licensing opportunities in high throughput genomics workflow improvement for frontier genomic applications, including DNA storage.
The current consortium consists of the biotech startup in Argentina, and a coordinator researcher based in Germany. They aim at applying to the 2nd call for proposals for joint industrial research and development projects between Germany and Argentina, with an expression of interest deadline October 18th 2019 and a call deadline November 29 th 2019. The expected project start is June 2020.

Advantages and Innovations

Multiplex targeted sequencing applications, instrumental for precision medicine advancement, rely on the use of synthetic DNA tags, or barcodes, to uniquely identify the origin (ownership) of DNA fragments. Current extreme error rates of long-read NGS technologies, in the range of 10 to 20%, easily corrupt current barcode designs. As a result, after sequencing, many valuable long reads are either discarded or misassigned. The current solution to this problem is to limit users and barcodes to a handy number. But this prevents multiplex long-read targeted sequencing to benefit from economies of scale. The challenge is to make a great leap forward in the number of users by designing large sets of barcodes (hundreds of thousands) robust enough to the extreme error rates of long-read NGS technologies.
The Argentinean company DNA tags are engineered to deal with extreme levels of sequencing noise in a transparent, efficient and predictive way. Hence, these DNA tags are also endowed with QoS metrics concerning the satisfaction of user-predefined crosstalk constraints. The DNA tag designs are actually based on advanced principles of coding theory, the same supporting the endless advance of digital communication applications. This unique approach allows the systematic design of tens, hundreds or tens of thousands of DNA tags before sequencing without increasing the computational overhead of tag identification after sequencing.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Requested partner

The search is aimed at biotech partners to develop a business area. The consortium exceeded the initial risk and now moves forward in several areas in parallel (e.g. single cell, diagnostic clinic). They are looking for SME enterprises creators and suppliers of reagents for the life science industry, with capabilities in the manufacture of synthetic DNA and long-read sequencing reagents to structure the client portfolio and develop marketing strategies in EU and Lationamerica. Particularly, a partnership with Argentina based ArgenTAG will allow an EU-Germany based SME biotech to enter the Latinoamerica market, currently operating almost exclusively on the basis of import from USA.  
They also seek universities and research institutes based research groups and laboratories active on clinical, human health, applied and/or basic science. The partner is expected to perform single-cell transcriptomics and/or diagnostic clinical analysis, focused on human health. The partner is expected to carry out original project(s) applying ArgenTAG DNA tags and technology in long-read next generation sequence (NGS) applications.

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