News Article

University of Washington spinout raises $1.2M for next-generation RNA sequencing technology
Date: Oct 17, 2018
Author: Clare McGrane
Source: ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Split Biosciences Inc of Seattle, WA

There's a new biotechnology spin-out from the University of Washington, and the company is already raising cash to get its technology off the ground.

Split Biosciences, which also goes by Split Bio, just raised a $1.2 million seed round. In an email to GeekWire, the company declined to identify the investors in the round, but did share details of its technology.

Split is developing a new method of sequencing cells' RNA, the messenger molecules that communicate genetic instructions to proteins.

"In recent years, single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) has seen explosive growth both within academia and pharmaceutical companies. However, despite the widespread adoption of scRNA-seq in basic research and discovery, high costs and low throughput have limited its uses for many applications," Charlie Roco, Split's co-founder, said in the email.

To combat this, Split has created a faster sequencing process called SPLiT-seq. It was developed in the lab of synthetic biology professor Georg Seelig by Roco and Alex Rosenberg, two researchers at the lab. All three are co-founders of Split Bio.

Traditionally, single-cell sequencing requires that all cells in a given sample -- a biopsy of a tumor, for example -- be physically separated before their DNA or RNA is sequenced. SPLiT-seq sidesteps that problem with new technology.

"SPLiT-seq leverages a combinatorial barcoding scheme to perform single-cell labeling of molecules without the need for cell isolation," Roco said. "This ultimately enables researchers to scale up in both samples and cell numbers."

Clare McGrane is a GeekWire reporter who covers life sciences, biotechnology and general assignment technology stories, in addition to producing the GeekWire radio show and podcast. A graduate of the University of Washington, she is passionate about nonfiction storytelling, particularly stories about how science impacts our daily lives.