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Agilent, Los Alamos, UCLA Team Up On Pathogen Detection Tool

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies announced today that it is working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health to develop an automated genotyping system for quickly identifying pathogens such as the influenza A H1N1 virus.

Researchers at Los Alamos, UCLA, and Agilent's Automation Solutions division designed the $1.7 million BioCel Automation System, which Agilent delivered to Los Alamos in late May for testing and design verification. The automated genotyping system can reportedly sequence at least 10,000 influenza viruses annually.

By determining the sequences of potentially dangerous viruses more quickly than current methods, the company says the new system could provide more time for health officials to prevent the spread of potential pathogens in the future. Those involved noted that the BioCel system may also prove useful as a research and surveillance tool for monitoring animal populations to detect new pathogens before they can infect humans.

UCLA's Global Bio Lab — which is joining an international High Throughput Laboratory Network in the process of being formed — plans to use the high-throughput system as part of its global health surveillance technology. The goal of the HTLN is to connect various centers and improve testing method uniformity.

"As the recent outbreak of swine flu shows, we need to do a much more extensive and thorough job of surveillance," Tony Beugelsdijk, who is leading the HTLN effort at Los Alamos, said in a statement. "This program will provide the world with tools for this task."

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