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Bionano Genomics Will Be Used in Research Identifying Gene Variants that Contribute to Coronavirus Disease Susceptibility

First study to be based in Wuhan, China; European and North American studies expected to follow

SAN DIEGO, March 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bionano Genomics announced the launch of a global network of studies aiming to identify genomic variants that influence COVID-19 disease resistance, sensitivity, disease progression and drug response. The first study will focus on the Wuhan, China outbreak, and will be performed at the site of Wuhan-based Bionano service provider GrandOmics in collaboration with Bionano Genomics. At least one hundred patients who tested positive for COVID-19 infection will undergo whole genome analysis using the Bionano Saphyr system, and genomic variants will be compared between those patients who show no or mild symptoms and those who show severe illness. The study will control for viral strain differences, and for the known risk factors of age and chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, or other immune-compromising disease.

The Bionano Saphyr system images label patterns on extremely long molecules of genomic DNA to identify structural variants. While Bionano’s technology is not suited for viral detection itself, which is typically performed with PCR assays, Saphyr is uniquely capable of detecting structural variants in the human genome. Such variants can predispose an individual to having a mild or severe disease progression, or to be resistant altogether. Additionally, certain variants may determine the individual’s response to drug treatments.

Genomic variants that predispose an individual to resistance and progression have been identified for a variety of infectious diseases. Deletions in the alpha-globin gene lead to sickle cell anemia but protect against malaria infection. A structural variant in the CCR5 gene provides protection against HIV-infection, and this knowledge led to the cure of several individuals who received a bone marrow transplant from a donor carrying that mutation. Genetic variation at the IL28B locus gives carriers a 3-fold greater chance of eradicating the Hepatitis-C virus after drug treatment compared to those without this genetic variation. Structural variation at the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) locus, a gene cluster of about 150 genes, has been associated with resistance to a variety of infectious diseases. Saphyr can uniquely analyze and phase the alleles of the human MHC locus.

Recent studies show that COVID-19 and SARS-CoV, the Coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak, both bind to the Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) gene to enter a cell. The Bionano study will survey the region surrounding ACE2 for structural and copy number variants that could influence binding of the virus, analyze the MHC regions in patients, and use Saphyr’s unbiased, genome-wide detection capabilities in an attempt to find yet-to-be identified disease susceptibility genes. Experts agree that investigations of the scope of host response are essential in determining how best to combat the disease and to protect against future outbreaks of a similar nature.

Erik Holmlin, PhD, CEO of Bionano Genomics commented: “As a life sciences company leading developments in structural variation detection, we believe it is our duty to help stop this deadly and devastating pandemic. Bionano’s genome imaging technology can identify variation in genome structure better than any sequencing-based method, which makes us uniquely positioned to help identify variants in the genome that can protect against or predispose patients to the viral infection. We have set up studies to identify such variants around the globe and are excited to announce the first of several studies to be run in the initial epicenter of the epidemic in Wuhan. We plan to make these findings available to the scientific and public health communities and hope that we can contribute to vaccine or drug development, better triage and treatment of patients, and overall management of the disease and epidemic.”

Depeng Wang, CEO of GrandOmics commented, “We are pleased to work with Bionano to use Saphyr for this important research. As we have a clinical lab in Wuhan, GrandOmics is uniquely affiliated with clinicians and researchers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. We have a growing collection of patient samples with comprehensive clinical histories spanning a range of outcomes. We believe this sample set together with Saphyr’s unique capability will provide great insights into the current outbreak and potential future outbreaks as well.”

About Bionano Genomics
Bionano is a genome analysis company providing tools and services based on its Saphyr system to scientists and clinicians conducting genetic research and patient testing. Bionano’s Saphyr system is a platform for ultra-sensitive and ultra-specific structural variation detection that enables researchers and clinicians to accelerate the search for new diagnostics and therapeutic targets and to streamline the study of changes in chromosomes, which is known as cytogenetics. The Saphyr system is comprised of an instrument, chip consumables, reagents and a suite of data analysis tools, and genome analysis services to provide access to data generated by the Saphyr system for researchers who prefer not to adopt the Saphyr system in their labs. For more information, visit www.bionanogenomics.com.

Bionano Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend” and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions or circumstances) convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes and are intended to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things, the design and outcome of the studies discussed in this press release, the planned use of Saphyr in these studies, Saphyr’s contribution to COVID-19 research, and the potential insights and our ability contribute to vaccine or drug development, better triage and treatment of patients, and overall management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these forward-looking statements involves risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected or implied in these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause such a difference include the risks that Saphyr may not be as effective as expected; variants in the genome that can protect against or predispose patients to the viral infection may go undetected; the COVID-19 pandemic may become contained prior to the release of our study results; the introduction of competitive products; our ability to obtain sufficient financing to fund our efforts; and the risks and uncertainties associated with our business and financial condition in general, including the risks and uncertainties described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018 and in other filings subsequently made by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date on which they were made and are based on management's assumptions and estimates as of such date. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of the receipt of new information, the occurrence of future events or otherwise.

Contacts:

Company Contact:
Erik Holmlin, PhD, CEO
Bionano Genomics, Inc.
+1 (858) 888-7600
eholmlin@bionanogenomics.com

Investor Relations Contact:
Ashley R. Robinson
LifeSci Advisors, LLC
+1 (617) 775-5956
arr@lifesciadvisors.com

Media Contact:
Kirsten Thomas
The Ruth Group
+1 (508) 280-6592
kthomas@theruthgroup.com