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Cepheid PCR Technology Tapped for US Postal Service Biohazard Detection System

NEW YORK, May 19 - Cepheid said today that its GeneXpert polymerase chain reaction technology has been selected for a biohazard detection system to be implemented at US Postal Service mail-sorting facilities nationwide.


The USPS selected Northrop Grumman Security Systems as the prime contractor and systems integrator for the $175 million project, which runs from January 2004 to October 2004.


Northrop Grumman will use Cepheid's GeneXpert PCR to rapidly analyze air samples taken from the mail sorting systems and detect trace levels of DNA from anthrax spores and other biological agents as it moves through the mail processing equipment, Cepheid said.


According to Cepheid, its system is the first to fully automate and integrate all the steps required for PCR-based DNA testing, including sample preparation, DNA amplification, and detection. The system provides PCR test results from a raw sample in 30 minutes or less, the company said.


Other companies developing components of the biohazard detection system include sub-assembly integrator Smiths Detection, a subsidiary of London-based Smiths Group; Sceptor Industries of Kansas City, Mo., which will provide the particle collection and air sampling instrumentation and technology; and MDCI of Doylestown, Pa., which will provide an automated cartridge handling system.


Northrop Grumman has been a major supplier to the USPS for its mail automation program since 1989.

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