Ultima Genomics combines '$100 genome' tech with Genome Insight's AI-powered analysis

After bursting out of stealth last year with the landscape-shifting claim that it had developed a whole-genome sequencing platform that can run analyses for only $100 apiece, Ultima Genomics is now working to get that technology into the hands of those who need it most.

The Fierce 15 honoree has inked a deal with Genome Insight, the pair announced Monday. The partnership will combine Ultima’s low-cost and high-speed sequencing tech with Genome Insight’s bioinformatics software to churn out reports detailing possible treatment options for cancer patients based on their genetic makeup—all at a price much more affordable than other whole-genome sequencing analyses.

“The ability to analyze the entire genome at a low cost is a game-changer in cancer treatment, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this revolution,” Young Seok Ju, CEO of Genome Insight, said in the announcement. “This collaboration is an important step towards our vision of using whole-genome sequencing to improve patient outcomes.”

Ultima unveiled its UG 100 sequencer when it emerged from stealth at the end of May 2022. Backed by about $600 million in venture capital, the company has built its own sequencing mechanism that is not only designed to cut down on the typical costs of running genomic analyses but could also be scaled up for use in large-scale studies.

Genome Insight, meanwhile, has built a bioinformatics platform that uses artificial intelligence to comb through genetic sequencing data to look for mutations and fusions—then highlights the variants that are most likely to help inform a treatment plan. For example, the resulting CancerVision report pinpoints the variations that have already been linked to FDA-approved treatments as well as those that are under investigation in now-recruiting clinical trials.

Combining the two startups’ technologies will therefore allow oncologists to make treatment decisions based on the inner workings of their patients’ entire genomes, compared to the bits and pieces they’re limited to with other sequencing mechanisms. Genome Insight will join the early-access program for the UG 100 sequencer, while also tailoring its bioinformatics platform specifically to Ultima’s tech.

The deal lines up with Ultima’s core philosophy, according to CEO Gilad Almogy, who noted in the announcement, “We founded Ultima Genomics to help overcome the tradeoffs scientists and clinicians are forced to make between the breadth, depth and frequency with which they use genomic information.”

Though Ultima is less than a year into its public-facing lifetime, this is far from the company’s first partnership.

In that time, Ultima has joined forces with Nvidia to boost the AI computing abilities of the UG 100 platform; with Regeneron to help develop the second-generation version of Ultima’s sequencer and, ultimately, to use it for drug discovery and development purposes; and with 10x Genomics to allow the UG 100 technology to delve even deeper into single-cell analyses—to name just a few of the company’s recent partnerships.