08 Jul, 2022
RevoluGen Wins 2022 BioNewsRound Award for Translational Research

First Automated Benchtop Fire Monkey HMW-DNA Extraction Installed at Quadram Institute for Pathogen Sequencing and AMR Monitoring

London, UK – 08 July 2022 – UK genomics company, RevoluGen Ltd. (RevoluGen or the Company), is pleased to announce that it has been selected as the winner of the 2022 BioNewsRound Award, for the development and automation of its Fire Monkey High Molecular Weight (HMW) DNA extraction system and successful transfer to its collaborator, Quadram Institute Biosciences (Quadram).

The Award, organised by leading trade association One Nucleus, seeks to celebrate life sciences successes from the past year. Specifically, this translational award, organised as part of the On Helix conference in Cambridge, recognises companies that demonstrated success in advancing their programme along the innovation pipeline, be that a new therapeutic, diagnostic or enabling technology.

RevoluGen had invested over 12 months in automating its Fire Monkey HMW DNA extraction enabling technology into a benchtop standard 96 well filter plate format, the world’s first automated extraction of library-ready HMW DNA. The extraction protocol has been validated to extract HMW-DNA from bacterial and mammalian samples, and the collaboration with Quadram is the Company’s first customer roll-out. 

In late December, RevoluGen announced that it was transferring an automated Fire Monkey system robot to Quadram, a leading UK research Institute, to enable automation of High Molecular Weight (HMW) DNA extraction across two high volume bacterial sequencing projects in pathogen persistence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) monitoring. 

The automated Fire Monkey HMW DNA extraction is being used in Quadram’s long-read DNA sequencing programs based on high quality hybrid assemblies initially across two key projects: processing Salmonella samples collected by an UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) lab; and processing Salmonella and Campylobacter samples from the Norfolk area looking at antimicrobial resistance (AMR) amongst other things. In 2022, scientists at Quadram and UKHSA have presented data at a number of scientific meetings and published several peer reviewed papers, using Fire Monkey to extract DNA.

Dr Tony Jones, CEO of One Nucleus and organiser of the BioNewsRound Award said, “In selecting the finalists we look for the impact of the news on the organisation’s development, the significance to the Life Sciences sector as a whole and the potential benefit to patients. RevoluGen scored highly against all of these criteria. Its technology automates the first step of the DNA sequencing process – getting DNA out of the cell, and its automated protocol will further speed high-volume genomics applications. It is a worthy entrant, and I am delighted that it was chosen by its peers as the 2022 winner.”

RevoluGen was selected as a finalist from over 40 entrants and announced as the winner yesterday at the end of the On Helix conference. The other five other 2022 finalist were:

  • Cambridge Crystallograhic Data Centre – Release of the CSD Landscape Generator Feature
  • ISA Pharmaceuticals - Receiving Fast Track Designation for Lead Product ISA101b
  • ONK Therapeutics – Collaboration with Intellia to Advance Allogeneic CRISPR-Edited NK Cell Therapies for the Treatment of Patients with Cancer
  • PharmEnable – multi-target collaboration with Denali Therapeutics in neurodegenerative disease
  • PrecisionLife – Partnership with Sano Genetics to accelerate understanding of long COVID and help identify new treatments

RevoluGen CEO, Pieter Haitsma Mulier said, “We are thrilled to win this award. Automation represents a game-changing differentiator and will allow us to rapidly scale sequencing at a lower cost per unit. Now that we have validated the automated protocol and have our first installed base, we believe that Fire Monkey is poised to become the DNA extraction technology of choice for high volume applications. Our technology unites short-read and long-read sequencing, enabling both from the same sample. It provides flexibility to revisit the same original sample for more detailed long-read sequencing after a first run with cheaper short-read sequencing. The DNA sequencing market is currently predicted to grow from $4bn to some $50bn over the next 10 years. and RevoluGen is well placed to make a significant contribution in this space.”

RevoluGen’s patent-protected technology is derived from a spin-column based protocol to extract HMW-DNA using a high g-force that does not break the long and fragile DNA molecules. Fire Monkey produces DNA fragments that are not too short and not too long for the long-read sequencing technologies. This size tuned DNA fragment extract improves the overall sequencing results from the technologies by not wasting sequencing resources on either reading the less useful small fragments or reducing sequencing throughput by blocking the sequencing pores with fragments that are too long. 

Dr Georgios Patsos, inventor of the Fire Monkey technology and CSO at RevoluGen said, “HMW DNA extraction is the critical first step in the DNA sequencing workflow. Rapid growth of sequencing worldwide has driven the need for automation to handle the volume of samples needed for applications such as population genomics, epidemiological mutation screening and antibiotic microbial resistance gene monitoring. Gemma and the teams at Quadram are undertaking world-leading projects in DNA sequencing and pathogen genomics, and we are excited to roll-out out the first automated Fire Monkey HMW DNA kits with them.”

Dr Gemma Langridge, a Group Leader at Quadram, who has been an early adopter of RevoluGen’s Fire Monkey technology said, “RevoluGen’s automated workflow is a real improvement.  Previously, we’d extract DNA from each sample individually using tubes. The robot uses positive air pressure to push the sample through a filtration column in a multi-well plate format.” 

Steven Rudder, a PhD student in the Langridge group, added, “Before, the fragments would be about 300 base pairs long. Now they’re 10,000s of bases, even up to over 100,000. It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle. Before we had lots of tiny pieces to put together, now we have big pieces that are easier to fit together. We are pleased to be RevoluGen’s first installation of its benchtop automated process. There is always a learning curve with a new installation, so I’m troubleshooting using the robot. I’ve gone from 24 samples in one day being quite painful to now doing 96 in a morning and feeling like you’re flying through samples”. 

Steven’s PhD project is focused on the next step of scaling up and speeding up the process. Steven brings expertise from previously working in the sequencing team at Quadram Institute. The project is an iCASE studentship with RevoluGen focusing on using a robot to carry out the Fire Monkey DNA extraction process so the team can process samples more quickly.

Read Quadram Institutes blog HERE

Quadram Institute pic july22

Steven Rudder, PhD student in Gemma Langridge’s research group at the Quadram Institute,
Norwich gives a thumbs up to RevoluGen’s automated Fire Monkey HMW-DNA extraction
© Quadram Institute