Jun Axup in Medium:
Our blood and cells are complex mixtures of DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites, lipids, sugars, metal ions, and more. All of these are deeply important in informing our health and wellness. Today, we can measure a few of these molecules routinely, but what are we missing might be in the rest of the data. Dalton Bioanalytics is creating a comprehensive and inexpensive method to look at all these molecules to bring about truly multiomics data. I sat with Austin Quach, CSO of Dalton Bioanalytics, to talk about his platform from inventing it in his lab to starting a company.
How did you become interested in multiomics?
Why are we waiting for disease to strike before treatment? Why do we continue to treat patients using one-size-fits-all? These questions were really the seeds that led to our interest in multiomics. What it boils down to is that we lack the quantity and quality of data to make early detection and precision medicine really successful. There’s a ton of information beyond each person’s genetics including their age, sex, ethnicity, dietary and lifestyle habits, exposure to drugs, medications, pollutants, and infections, tissue, organ, and psychosocial health, etc. The only way to really automatically capture most of this information is to integrate multiple layers of bioinformation — a.k.a. multiomics. For example, genomics (DNA), transcriptomics (RNA), proteomics (proteins), microbiomics (microbes), metabolomics (metabolites), and exposomics (exposures), etc.
Unfortunately, current multiomic approaches are prohibitively expensive. In fact, many have tried to push this approach forward only to realize that it is too expensive to scale. This is when things really got interesting for us — what if we could invent a way to do multiomics using a single low cost assay? The performance specs might not be as good as the individual specialized -omics assays but we might be able to hit that sweet spot where we capture enough data to become invaluable but still maintain affordability. It was basically like that aha moment when you realize what makes smartphones so great: they may not be as good as specialized tools but who has the time and energy to lug around a backpack full of expensive equipment?