Swedish company Saga Diagnostics has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for the development of new digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) assays.

Under the terms of the deal, Saga will develop new SAGAsafe dPCR assays to detect undisclosed methylated targets for evaluating tissue and liquid biopsy samples.

A patented improvement of dPCR, SAGAsafe enables an increased sensitivity of around 100-fold as compared to other rival methods.

It is part of Saga’s portfolio of ultrasensitive technologies, which also includes a personal monitoring technology for cancer burden, as well as minimal residual disease (MRD), called Sagasign.

AstraZeneca epigenomics, oncology translational medicine and oncology research and development director James Hadfield said: “We have chosen to partner with Saga because of the ultrasensitive performance of the SAGAsafe technology and possibility to custom-tailor highly complex dPCR assays to meet our desired analytical standards. We are excited about exploring this new area together with Saga.”

SAGAsafe can be utilised to determine the quantity of sequence variants in tissue samples and liquid biopsies such as blood plasma.

Using the technology, the denaturation state of input material can be determined to obtain accurate results.

Saga Diagnostics co-founder and chief operating officer Lao Saal said: “We are honoured that Dr Hadfield and his team have selected Saga and the SAGAsafe platform to develop ultrasensitive dPCR methylation assays for AstraZeneca’s clinical research study and are pleased to be working together again.”

In September, AstraZeneca and the clinical sequencing unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific partnered on the joint development of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based companion diagnostics (CDx).

NGS-based CDx can be used for matching patients with new treatments for oncology and other diseases.