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DiaCarta to Explore XNA Clamp Tech for Low-Frequency Mutations Under NIH Collaboration

NEW YORK – DiaCarta said Wednesday that it has inked a two-year cooperative research and development agreement with the National Cancer Institute, under which it will collaborate with NCI investigators on further development of its proprietary xeno-nucleic acid molecular clamping technology.

NCI and DiaCarta have two planned projects, beginning with an investigation using xeno-nucleic acid, or XNA, to detect low frequency mutation events in cancers and rare diseases. The second effort will focus on developing XNA probes for in situ cancer cell detection.

Based in San Francisco, DiaCarta has developed a variety of molecular diagnostic methods, including the XNA molecular clamping technology. XNA assays use synthetic Xenonucleic acid molecular oligomers that hybridize exclusively with target wild-type DNA sequences. These molecules then block the wild-type sequences from being amplified during quantitative PCR.

"Accurate and efficient amplification of mutant sequences, most of which are present in extremely low frequency, is an unmet need across various disease states, including hard to diagnose cancers," DiaCarta CEO Aiguo Zhang said in a statement. "We are excited to expand and develop [our technology] further across other indications through [this] partnership," he added.

Among existing applications for XNA molecular clamping, DiaCarta has already developed a set of CE-marked single-gene QClamp qPCR assays, as well as XNA next-generation sequencing panels.

The company markets a PCR-based screening kit called ColoScape, which detects 20 DNA mutations associated with colorectal cancer in tumor, stool, or plasma samples.

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