Why is this a big deal for us?
Offering a laboratory-based direct-to-consumer product such as the Basepaws cat DNA test requires the coordination of multiple moving parts. Once your cat’s sample arrives in our lab, it undergoes DNA extraction and quality checks and is then split into 2 different work streams – one necessary for generating the breed report and the other necessary for generating the health report. After the sample is processed under these 2 different workstreams, it is then sent to a third-party Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) facility for sequencing. Finally, the sequencing results arrive back in our lab for analysis and report generation. You can read more details about our process here. It’s a bit like chasing kittens :)
As you can imagine, having a rapid timeline for all of these steps to happen successfully requires optimal coordination of employee time and expertise, a state of the art sample tracking system, foreseeing lab reagents supply-chain issues, having a reliable NGS partner, and a robust computational pipeline for data analysis and report generation. Shortening our report timeline to 4-6 weeks has been a long-term goal for us since the beginning of Basepaws. As a startup company, we’ve had some inevitable hiccups in reaching this goal and we sincerely thank all our customers (especially our early customers!) for all their patience and support. All of our optimization work has now paid off and we are thrilled to offer you a much faster turnaround time.
How did we do it?
There are four main factors that have contributed to Basepaws being able to offer shorter report timelines:
1. State-of-the-art lab equipment
In Q4 of 2019, we moved our laboratory to a lab-sharing space for startup companies called LA BioLabs at the Lundquist Institute. This move has given us access to brand new state-of-the-art lab equipment which has resulted in a smaller number of sample processing failures.
2. Reliable NGS provider
There are multiple NGS companies across the US offering variable quality and speed of service. Basepaws has changed a few such facilities already, looking for the purrfect one. We are now fortunate to be working with an LA-based NGS provider, Fulgent Genetics, who has been providing us with uncompromising product quality and data delivery on a strict timeline.
3. COVID-19 driven efficiency
Like everyone else in the world, our team took the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic hard. Our key priority during this time has been to keep our employees safe. To do this, we had to implement shift work schedules for our lab team in order to minimize risk and comply with social distancing measures. At first, this led to some inevitable delays in sample processing. Over time, however, this unprecedented situation forced us to re-evaluate our process and spot and address existing operational inefficiencies. We thank our dedicated lab team for being adaptable, proactive, and over-communicative during this difficult time. Here’s another Thank You to all of you who supported our work this year – you (and your kitties!) are heroes to us!
4. Optimized sample preparation procedure
While it has been challenging to keep Research and Development work going during the pandemic, Basepaws has always recognized the importance of research innovation with the goal of delivering a better product. One significant improvement that made shortening our report timeline possible was changing the way we do lab processing (library preparation) for the breed part of our report. We developed a method that allows us to process double the amount of samples for the same amount of time without any drop in quality. Paws Up for our Science team for all their hard work!
While we aim to make all customer reports available in 4-6 weeks from the date a sample arrives at our laboratory, this is not possible in 100% of cases. In the rare instances where a sample fails internal quality checks and needs to be reprocessed, we will contact the customer regarding the next steps and updated timelines.