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Biodesign Institute, Partners Continue Work on BARDA-funded Gene Expression Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Arizona State University will receive a $5 million contract option from the Department of Health and Human Services to continue feasibility testing of a prototype for a gene expression-based test that would rapidly measure an individual's exposure to radiation.

The funding from the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) program is part of an ongoing $35.4 million project to fund the creation of a high-throughput system to measure the radiation dose of individuals within a large population.

The research includes scientists at ASU's Biodesign Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, HTG Molecular Diagnostics, and the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The research will require using a biomarker signature set based on gene expression markers that are responsive to radiation and to develop microassay reagents and imagers. The dosing measurement tool must be capable of processing a high volume of blood samples per day on an automated liquid handling and imaging platform.

"As Japan's tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis has demonstrated, there is an urgent societal need to rapidly assess an at risk population's exposure to radiation," Lee Cheatham, deputy director of the Biodesign Institute and lead investigator of the project, said in a statement.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop a diagnostic system that would ensure that medical responders have the information necessary to provide appropriate medical treatment and ensure human health and safety."