Illumina scientist’s startup aims to rapidly detect drug resistance in bacterial DNA

One of the founding scientists of Illumina has come out with a new gene-sequencing software startup that aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance and rapid pathogen detection.

Arc Bio launched with its first cloud-based product, Galileo AMR, which promises to detect possible drug resistance and provide annotations for any gram-negative bacterial DNA sequence in under five minutes. Tracking certain genes can help researchers better understand how drug resistance spreads through different strains.

Based in Menlo Park, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Arc Bio’s CEO, Todd Dickinson, is joined by scientific co-founders Carlos Bustamante and David Andrew Sinclair. Bustamante is a population geneticist and professor of biomedical data science, genetics and biology at Stanford University, while Sinclair is a professor of genetics at Harvard University.

"As the CDC reports, every year over 2 million people are infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria, causing more than 23,000 deaths in the U.S.,” Dickinson said in a statement. “Rapid identification of various strains of antimicrobial resistance, and better understanding their transmission and evolution, is vital to protecting public health."

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Dickinson served as director of product development for Illumina’s DNA sequencing operations and spent more than 12 years with the company. He also served as VP of global commercial operations at BioNano Genomics.

Galileo AMR—formerly known as MARA and acquired from Spokade—draws from a digital archive of validated gram-negative AMR genes, cassettes and other mobile elements.

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"Our goal at Arc Bio is to revolutionize pathogen detection by developing a unique NGS lab workflow and software solution that allows for smarter and simple to use analysis," Bustamante said. "Our current emphasis is on assisting those in public health and life science research who study antimicrobial resistance transmission and evolution of gram-negative bacteria."

Arc Bio, which operates under Sinclair’s EdenRoc Sciences, aims to build a suite of next-generation sequencing products in bacterial and pathogen analysis.