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SANGRE-seq (systematic analysis of blood gene regulation by sequencing) – bringing RNA-seq to clinical diagnostics


Generating solutions




2015 Disruptive Innovation in Genomics Competition

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

Phase 1 Project

Diagnostic tests based on blood samples are mainstays of the healthcare system, with thousands of vials of blood collected each day in Canada. While blood samples give vital information they are not being used to their full potential. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) of blood is a new technology that provides a snapshot of all the genes that are active in a patient’s blood cells. Such a snapshot can tell us about the current condition of the patient’s immune system, whether there are cancer cells in the blood and/or whether blood cells are fighting an infection. RNA-seq is poised to play a role in routine diagnostics, but important innovations are needed to make this a truly disruptive clinical technology.

Drs. Michael Wilson and Adam Shlien of The Hospital for Sick Children are leading a team to implement a series of technical and computational innovations that collectively will become an RNA-based clinical test called SANGRE (systematic analysis of blood gene regulation in blood). Implementing SANGRE will require a seamless convergence of many technologies but will provide unprecedented power to use RNA expression as a routine and affordable test.

The power of SANGRE comes from its scalability, which will support the discovery of new patterns of RNA molecules that could be used to better diagnose disease. SANGRE will provide a complex digital record of a patients experience with a disease or treatment. The team will begin by focusing on detecting leukemia signatures in whole blood. SANGRE will support learning specific patterns and linking them to health outcomes in a way that will disrupt clinical practice and improving the health of Canadians.