Day Zero Diagnostics Awarded Phase I SBIR Grant for Algorithm Development

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Day Zero Diagnostics co-founders Jong Lee, MBA; Miriam Huntley, PhD; Doug Kwon, MD PhD; Dougal Maclaurin, PhD; and Melis Anahtar, MD, PhD. [Harvard Business School]

Day Zero Diagnostics (DZD) said today it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) intended to fund the development of an algorithm to automate the determination of infection relatedness in suspected hospital-acquired infection (HAI) outbreaks.

The grant, which DZD said totaled $224,000, will enable the company to continue development and initial validation of the algorithm, named ksim, using data from published hospital outbreaks, a large hospital dataset, and data from the company’s epiXact rapid whole genome sequencing and analysis service.

“For this Phase I SBIR grant, we are focused on development of the ksim algorithm using previously published HAI outbreak datasets, 5,000 clinical samples from a large single-hospital longitudinal WGS database, and data from our commercially available epiXact service over the next six months,” Jong Lee, MBA, DZD’s CEO and co-founder, told Clinical OMICs.

“Advancements generated from this Phase I program will be leveraged to enhance our epiXact service to reduce turnaround time and expand its availability,” Lee said. “But we also plan on submitting for a potential Phase II SBIR grant to allow us to do a validation study of ksim’s ability to perform large-scale prospective surveillance.”

Using ksim and epiXact, infection control teams will have actionable results in less than 24 hours, according to DZD.

ksim is designed to process whole genome sequencing data in seconds, without the need for manual analysis steps, or the degree of computational intensity and dedicated time from a computational biologist required to conduct traditional sequence analysis.

epiXact is designed to provide hospitals with a determination of infection relatedness in a suspected outbreak, based on an analysis of whole genome sequencing data by DZD’s’ team of computational biologists.

Lee said epiXact is used by a number of academic medical centers.

“For some elements of our Phase I development project, we will be working with data provided through a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital to compare the results of the algorithm to the gold standard SNP-based method,” Lee added.

Boston-based DZD was founded in 2016 by researchers from Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital. The company is developing a sequencing-based diagnostic platform that identifies both the species and the antibiotic resistance profiles of bacterial pathogens.

In January, DZD completed an $8.6 million Series A financing round led by healthcare-focused venture capital firm Triventures with additional funding from Sands Capital Ventures and Golden Seeds.

And in May, Clinical OMICs recognized the company among up-and-comers included in “10 to Watch: Up-and-Coming Companies Fulfilling the Promise of Precision Medicine.”

[This report has been updated from an earlier version to include comment from Jong Lee, MBA, DZD’s CEO and co-founder

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