Sequencing-Based Diagnostics Critical to Fighting Against Infectious Disease

Conference | <b>ID Week</b>

While sequencing-based diagnostics have been used since the 1970s, only recently has the technology been used for infectious diseases.

Sequence-based diagnostics was developed in the 1970s, and since then has been used to in the medical field to diagnose cancers and other diseases. However, until recently, it hadn’t been used for infectious diseases. Day Zero Diagnostics is changing that status quo. It is an early-stage company developing a new category of diagnostics for infectious disease to identify pathogens and antibiotic susceptibility profile using whole genome sequencing and machine learning in hours instead of the usual days.

Jong Lee, chief executive officer, Day Zero Diagnostics, spoke to Infection Control Today® (ICT®) about the company’s goals for assisting the general health care space, and their special announcement at the IDWeek Conference in Washington, DC, on October 19-23, 2022.

The company announced at ID Week Conference that they received awards from CARB-X totaling over $16 million this year.

Lee said, “Sequencing-based diagnostics have been something that people have talked about for decade, and sequencing-based diagnostics have become clinically useful in some categories, like oncology or prenatal testing, but they have not made a dent in infectious diseases. Sequencing is used for research purposes or to do research projects. But it's not actually integrated into clinical decision-making when you're talking about care of patients.”

Sequencing-based diagnostics is even more critical to use to fight against infectious disease, especially since antimicrobial resistance expands. “The other takeaway is about things like outbreak detection and infection control. If you walk around IDWeek [conference], you see a lot of presentations about that. Almost every single presentation that's now being given has sequencing as the core method by which people make that determination. In fact, if you're not using sequencing, what's clear from the presentations being given here is that you're not state of the art anymore.”

Lee then discussed what is limiting his company thus far.“But most practitioners think of sequencing again just as a research tool, something that academic researchers are doing and presenting their work in a place like IDWeek, they don't realize that it's available today as a commercial service. And that's where [Day Zero Diagnostics] do a lot of our efforts around diagnostic development. Earlier this year, we'd launched a commercial service that's available to any hospital, where within 2 days, we provide sequencing-based determinations of commonality, so that hospitals can make a really informed decision when they're trying to implement, expensive protocols, expensive ways to deal with an outbreak.”

When ICT® asked Lee what he hoped the attendees took away from his presentation, he said, “One message to take away both from us and our announcements [of additional funding from CARB-X] and some of the presentations that we've been involved in, but others as well, is that we're in a zone where in the next 3 to 5 years, sequencing-based diagnostics are going to become reality for clinical microbiology and infectious diseases. That's something that people have talked about already for a decade, but it's getting to the point where the technology is maturing, and costs are getting to the point where I think sequencing is going to be the future of the way infectious disease diagnostics are done going forward.”