This year for the first time in three years the annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference (#AGBT19) will be held back in Marco Island Florida, where it traditionally was held for many years.
Those not familiar with AGBT, it is a specialty conference that began in the 1990’s during the run-up to the first Human Genome Project, specializing in both the genomic science and the genomic technology, including bioinformatics, to reveal new insights into the genome. While searching for some additional background about this conference I came across this post from Daniel MacArthur from AGBT 2010, where a list of names bring back memories of those days (e.g. Luke Jostins, Dan Koboldt, Anthony Fejes…)
Of note this is when Pacific Biosciences made it’s initial splash (take a look at Bio-IT World’s take on their initial impressions of the RS II from 2010) and a brief mention is made of a small company called Ion Torrent, shown in private to thought-leaders but not in public. It was a memorable time – I myself had just joined Life Technologies a month before, we were promoting the SOLiD 4 platform at that time, and the Life Technologies’ suite memorably had a billiard table with balls to explain the concept of two-base encoding.
Fast forward nine years, and PacBio has been acquired by Illumina for $1.2B just recently, the SOLiD platform is no longer, Ion Torrent and Life Technologies absorbed into Thermo Fisher in 2014 for $13.2B, and AGBT is still ‘the’ place for the latest in genomic technology, and the genomic biology it reveals. Here I’ll preview a few of the upcoming talks from the agenda posted here; the conference starts February 27 2019.
A ‘liquid biopsy’ for cancer
Non-invasive cancer detection assays are truly something to keep aware of – not the least of which I myself am working on a blood-based early-detection technology at Singlera Genomics – and AGBT is not remiss from highlighting this important application. Joshua Cohen, affiliated with Johns Hopkins and a startup company called PapGene, where they are working on assays such as UroSEEK and PapSEEK for the detection of bladder or upper tract urothelial cancer from urine, or detection of endometrial or ovarian cancer from cervical fluid.
Dr. Cohen’s talk is entitled “Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test”.
Single-cell analysis at scale
A few years ago in 2015 Aviv Regev (Broad Institute) made quite a splash with a single-cell RNA-seq talk, using a home-brew technology at that time called Drop-Seq, of over 10,000 cells. At that time she requested a social media embargo as her data wasn’t published yet, and now single-cell analysis bounding forward on many fronts. For example, the Human Cell Atlas Project is one example and Singlera co-founder Kun Zhang (UCSD) received $14M for 3D maps of human organs at single-cell resolution.
Dr. Regev’s talk is entitled, “Cell atlases as road maps to human disease”.
GenapSys will make a reappearance
In 2014, a small company called GenapSys gave a presentation at AGBT notable for what it did not have, and what scientists at this conference highly value – and that is DATA. A ‘lunchbox’-size device for single-molecule sequencing, and even announced an early-access program. Having gone quiet for five years, they will be presenting again this year, and you can be sure the scientists in attendance will still be expecting data.
Dr. Tyson Clark of GenapSys will give a talk entitled “Electrical detection of single base incorporations enables high accuracy sequencing on a small scalable platform”.
Spatial Profiling will be out in-force
Last year I wrote this piece on NanoString’s Digital Spatial Profiling platform at AGBT18. This year NanoString will have a sponsored workshop with Peter Nelson (Fred Hutchison Cancer Center) speaking with the title “Mapping the microenvironment composition in metastatic prostate cancer by multi-analyte profiling using the GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler”, and John McPherson (UC Davis) presenting “Spatially resolving RNA biomarkers using GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler for early diagnosis and prognosis in melanoma”.
NanoString is also sponsoring a special Pre-AGBT Spatial Genomics Summit on the afternoon of the first day (February 27, 2019 starting at noon), with something you do not normally see: presentations on the application (in this case spatial genomics) from alternative approaches, namely FISSEQ (being commercialized by a company called ReadCoor), MERFISH (an academic technology not yet commercialized), and Spatial Transcriptomics (recently acquired by 10X Genomics). If you are attending #AGBT19 and can arrive early, you can signup here.
Attending #AGBT19 and want to meet in-person?
This year I’ll have the privilege of attending AGBT, and if you’d like to meet in-person would be happy to set something up, whether to talk about genomics in general, your particular idea or application, what Singlera is doing with early detection, or anything else. Just drop me a note via email (dale at yuzuki . org) and look forward to meeting you.