Mawi and CosmosID Collaborate to Enable More Precise Microbiome Analysis

Mawi DNA Technologies, a biotechnology company focusing on the development of innovative technologies for biosampling, announces a collaboration with CosmosID to help advance understanding of microbiome complexity in different biological samples and environments.

“Our fellow microbiome researchers have been looking for a more cost-effective, safe and reliable alternative to transporting frozen microbiome samples. The new iSWAB-Microbiome sample collection technology was designed to address this need,”

said Dr. Bassam El-Fahmawi, President and CTO, Mawi DNA Technologies.

“CosmosID, a proven leader in the field of microbiome analysis, was the ideal research partner to help our team verify the functionality of iSWAB-Microbiome in real time with CosmosID’s powerful End-to-End Microbiome interrogation platform.”

He added that the validation results from this partnership with CosmosID empowers microbiome researchers by providing access to high quality sampling and preservation at truly global scales. This advances understanding of the significant microbiome diversity across different environments and relationship to health and disease.

“With the increasing impact of microbiome research on human health, a need to interrogate RNA, in addition to DNA, from the same sample is emerging. iSWAB-Microbiome is designed to stabilize microbial DNA and RNA from the same sample, addressing this emerging need.”

El-Fahmawi said.

“We’re impressed with the vigorous validation approach that Mawi has chosen to employ for the development of iSWAB-Microbiome. Other companies in the sample collection space generally look at lower resolution comparisons, such as 16S or genus level comparisons when validating their product’s ability to preserve microbiome composition,”

said Manoj Dadlani, CosmosID CEO.

“Mawi has chosen to work with us on high resolution comparisons using whole genome sequencing to analyze sample preservation at the species and strain level. We expect the iSWAB-Microbiome kit to be well received by the microbiome community for two reasons: first, its robust long-term stabilization performance, and second, we believe that it is the only non-toxic sample collection kit,” Dadlani added.

iSWAB-Microbiome allows for efficient, reliable and non-toxic microbiome sample collection, concentration and stabilization of microbial DNA and RNA collected with a swab or cytobrush from sources which include fecal, rectal, oral, skin, soil, vaginal, etc. Samples collected with iSWAB-Microbiome are stable at ambient temperatures for 40 days allowing for transport and storage with the resulting data output on par with freezing. In addition, iSWAB-Microbiome masks the odor from the samples especially with feces, sewage and soil, making the sample more tolerable to process in the lab.

The current benchmark practice for preserving the microbial community within a sample from the point of collection is maintaining and transporting the sample frozen using time-sensitive, stringent cold-chain methods, which are expensive and cumbersome. Alternative non-cold chain sample preservation methods require the use of hazardous organic solvents. The disadvantages of these solvents include greater compositional bias to the sampled microbiota, which can only be compensated by deeper and more expensive sequencing in order to recover low abundance microbes for adequate data interpretation. Additionally, organic solvents cause significant loss of live microbial community representation within a sample, complicate laboratory workflows and make shipping difficult due to the hazardous nature of the ingredients. Furthermore, existing microbiome sample collection methods are sample specific rather than universal.

As a result, the lack of a safe and proven long term ambient-temperature preservation method for both microbial DNA and RNA from point of collection to processing that can reliably replace freezing has increased cost, reduced operational efficiency and hindered the ability to access and compare larger pools of samples across the globe, especially in rural and hard to access remote areas. Thus, these very important challenges led to the inspiration behind Mawi’s iSWAB-Microbiome collection kit.