Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser.

This website may not display properly with Internet Explorer. For the best experience, please use a more recent browser such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and/or Mozilla Firefox. Thank you.

Your Environment. Your Health.


Export to Word (
Principal Investigator: Salk, Jesse J
Institute Receiving Award Twinstrand Biosciences, Inc.
Location Seattle, WA
Grant Number R44ES030642
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 15 Jul 2019 to 31 Jul 2022
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): A RAPID, ACCURATE AND MECHANISTICALLY INFORMATIVE GENOTOXICITY ASSAY USING DUPLEX SEQUENCING Genotoxicity testing, the evaluation of chemicals for the potential to induce DNA mutations increasing human cancer risk, is a crucial part of development of drugs, cosmetics and other products. But the available battery of mutagenicity assays forces frustrating trade-offs between performance and convenience. And while existing tests can detect mutagenesis, most provide no insight into mechanism of action. A more convenient accurate, rapid, and mechanistically-informative assay is needed to speed drug and other chemical development and better detect threats to human health. This SBIR grant application proposes to develop an end-to-end laboratory kit and software-based genotoxicity testing product using Duplex Sequencing, the most accurate DNA sequencing technology in existence. Because Duplex Sequencing can detect ultra-low frequency mutations at levels below one-in-ten-million, it can identify a chemical as mutagenic within weeks of exposure. Because it relies on a simple workflow that only requires extracted DNA as an input, it can be deployed far more widely than existing in vivo assays. And because it assesses not just mutation frequency but also the identities of the specific mutations induced, Duplex Sequencing will be the only genotoxicity test that reveals chemicals’ trinucleotide “mutational signatures”, which can implicate specific mutagenic mechanisms, thus enabling strategic redesign of a mutagenic but otherwise promising drug. We have generated strong proof-of-principle results, but substantial work is needed to translate our experimental assay into an off-the-shelf product that customers can easily adopt. In this proposal we will optimize and validate a user-friendly Duplex Sequencing genotoxicity assay in preparation for commercialization. In Phase I we will construct Duplex Sequencing panels for measurement of genotoxicity in rats, mice and humans, and evaluate their performance. In Phase II we will optimize the assay’s protocols and reagents, build and deploy cloud-based software allowing biologists to easily render Duplex Sequencing outputs into interpretable results, and validate our assay in animal and human cell line models over diverse mutagens, inclusive of assessing their mutational signatures. Genotoxicity testing is a vital discipline that has relied on antiquated techniques for too long. The speed, accuracy and information content of Duplex Sequencing promises a radical improvement to the status quo. We expect this convenient and easy-to-implement test to find rapid uptake among drug companies searching for better, earlier genotoxicity readouts, in CROs excited for a broadly applicable assay they can offer their customers and among academics, looking to push the envelope of their fields.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 72 - Predictive Toxicology/Assay Development
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications See publications associated with this Grant.
Program Officer Daniel Shaughnessy
to Top