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EraGen Antes Up in Anthrax-Detection Market With Own DNA-Based Product

NEW YORK, Nov. 7 - EraGen Biosciences on Wednesday threw its hat into the anthrax-detecting ring by announcing that it has developed a test that can detect the bacterium more rapidly than currently available tests.

The test, which is based on the company’s AEGIS technology, may help physicians reduce the time to detect the Bacillus anthracis “from days to hours,” EraGen said in a statement.

"We have developed a suite of DNA scanning platforms that can determine the presence of organisms used as biological weapons," David Marshall, EraGen's program manager for nucleic acid technology, said in the statement. "Anthrax is just the first target,” he added. “We believe with sensitivity down to a single genome … these tests will enable users to more efficiently detect agents of biological warfare in the field as well as in the laboratory."

EraGen, based in Madison, Wis., said it also is building “an entire panel of tests” for organisms likely to be used as biological weapons. This panel will rely on the company’s Master Catalog bioinformatics platform as well as the AEGIS technology, EraGen said.

On Monday, Roche Holding said it was about to release its own DNA-based test  co-developed with the Mayo Clinic that can help researchers rapidly identify anthrax.

Roche will provide the product, which it says can detect the bug within one hour, beginning next week at no charge to roughly 24 laboratories in the United States that are equipped with its LightCycler PCR technology.

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