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Akonni Biosystems Partners with Seegene to Develop POC Respiratory Disease Tests

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Akonni Biosystems will work with Seegene to develop point-of-care and high-throughput screening assays for the diagnosis of infectious pathogens known to cause respiratory disease.

The companies plan to combine Akonni's TruArray gel-drop microarray platform with Seegene's Dual Priming Oligo, or DPO, multiplex PCR technology in a bid to deliver a low-cost molecular diagnostics system.

Seegene's DPO technology is used to block the extension of non-specifically primed templates during PCR. This enables proper priming between an oligonucleotide primer and the template DNA, reducing the risk of mismatched priming, according to the Seoul, Korea-based firm.

Frederick, Md.-based Akonni sees the DPO platform as a means to increase the sensitivity and specificity of its TruArray assays. The firm's gel-drop array platform is specifically optimized for medical applications and current TruArray tests are designed to run on Akonni's POC TruDx systems. The firm rolled out its TruSentry system, which enables the multiplex genetic testing of up to 3,000 samples per day, earlier this year (BAN 2/1/2011).

Seegene CEO Jong Yoon Chun and Akonni CEO Charles Daitch said in a joint statement that Akonni will now be positioned to "increase the sensitivity and specificity of its TruArray products by integrating Seegene's multiplex DPO technology into its workflow."

The tests that result from the collaboration will "provide clinical laboratories with a novel approach that is capable of detecting a broader spectrum of infections with unparalleled accuracy and speed at a lower overall cost," Chun and Daitch said.

Akonni has received numerous grants and awards in recent years to bring various tests on its POC TruArray platform to market. In September 2010, it received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a portable test for tuberculosis (BAN 9/21/2010).

The company also has an ongoing partnership with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, to develop a portable system that can detect category A-C biodefense pathogens (BAN 9/7/2010).

The financial details of the recent agreement with Seegene were not discussed.

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