These leading-edge DNA profiling technologies may hold the key to improved diagnoses and treatment of many diseases, including cancer. The licensed intellectual property (IP) is based upon the early findings of Professor Anjana Rao; an expert in immunology and cancer epigenetics, formerly of Boston Children's Hospital and now with the La Jolla Institute, and a member of the Cambridge Epigenetix Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Professor Rao’s pioneering research group was the first to identify 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) as an important biomarker for cancer diagnosis that cannot be measured by traditional epigenetic sequencing methodologies. She also determined that the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family of enzymes generate 5hmC from 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and are key regulators of cellular differentiation that are frequently mutated in cancer.

The broad IP covers numerous best-in-class epigenetic techniques used in laboratories across the globe for profiling and altering DNA methylation, including the specific and unbiased enrichment of 5mC and 5hmC via enzymatic glucosylation and the use of TETs for targeted epigenetic engineering. Professor Rao’s technologies are sensitive and robustly profile methylation and hydroxymethylation in limited amounts of DNA (< 10ng), ideal for clinical samples. This early IP, which was filed in 2008, predates several patents that have described related methodologies and Cambridge Epigenetix is now in an unmatched position to identify epigenetic biomarkers for non-invasive cancer diagnosis and other clinical applications.

Cambridge Epigenetix pioneered the development of the gold standard in 5mC and 5hmC detection - TrueMethyl® oxidative bisulfite sequencing, and as market leaders recognised the value of holding an exclusive license to these fundamental and widely-applicable technologies. This exclusive license solidifies the company’s position as the partner of choice for epigenetic biomarker discovery.

Dr Jason Mellad, CEO at Cambridge Epigenetix, commented: “This is a tremendous opportunity for Cambridge Epigenetix, enabling the company to utilise and offer our partners the most advanced epigenetic biomarker discovery technologies available in our key focus areas of oncology and liquid biopsy. 5hmC is fundamentally linked to the expression of genes and to the identity of cells and tissue. This makes it a highly important epigenetic marker with the potential to improve patient outcomes through the early diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer. The granting of this exclusive licence to Cambridge Epigenetix will drive further innovations in this important area.”

Professor Anjana Rao, Head of the Division of Signalling and Gene Expression at the La Jolla Institute and member of the Cambridge Epigenetix Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) stated: “The continued study of 5hmC and other oxidised methylcytosines is essential to enhance our understanding of human biology and health. I am delighted that Cambridge Epigenetix has chosen to licence this technology and, through my role on the SAB, I will continue advising them on maximising its application.”