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IDT, Ubiquitome Partner to Develop Mobile Ebola Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) ― New Zealand startup Ubiquitome and custom oligo supplier Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) announced a new partnership today to develop a hand-held Ebola assay.

The assay will be developed by IDT using the firm's PrimeTime qPCR Assay components. It will run on Ubiquitome's hand-held PCR platform, the Freedom4.

Ubiquitome launched the Freedom4 in September. Developed at the University of Otago, it runs four standard PCR reactions using an iPhone or laptop interface, and has a six hour battery life. It is housed in an aluminum case and has laser-based optical detection.

Fieldabilty could be a useful feature for a PCR-based Ebola assay, since "regions affected by this disease are often far from an established laboratory," Ubiquitome CEO Paul Pickering said in a statement.

The firms are planning to seek Emergency Use Authorization for the assay from the US Food and Drug Administration, according to a representative at Ubiquitome. The test would then join a growing list of molecular Ebola tests now authorized for use on patients, including two FilmArray assays from BioFire and a real-time PCR kit from Altona Diagnostics. A similarly fieldable test using isothermal nucleic acid amplification is also under development by Lucigen. 

IDT recently licensed MGB Eclipse qPCR probes from EliTech for use solely in human in vitro diagnostic end-use applications. The Coralville, Iowa-based firm also supplies reagents for RainDance Technologies' digital PCR platform.

Testing of the Ubiquitome Freedom4 Real-Time RT-PCR Ebola Virus Assay will be conducted by Battelle in Aberdeen, Md.