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Nanogen to Use $1.5M US Army Grant to Develop Antiterrorist Devices

NEW YORK, Oct. 10 – Microarray technology developer Nanogen said on Wednesday it had received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the US Army to develop devices to detect biological warfare and infectious disease agents in human blood samples.

Nanogen’s shares rose $2.88, or 52 percent, at $8.47 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq following the news. 

Nanogen, based in San Diego, said it would develop miniaturized electronic devices that could isolate and detect agents that might be used in a terrorist attack. Nanogen said the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, Md, would supervise the research.

"This agreement represents our continued commitment to the advancement of biological warfare defense, namely developing miniaturized electronic systems for rapidly detecting micro-organisms, DNA and protein substances that may be deployed as biological warfare agents," Randy White, CEO of Nanogen, said in a statement. 

The company said it would apply the technology developed under the grant to its commercial activities.

Genomics and other companies developing detection devices have also been among the bigger gainers on Wall Street recently. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, concerns are growing about the possibility that terrorists could unleash a deadly round of biological and or chemical warfare.

On Tuesday, for example, shares of Cepheid and Bruker Daltonics rallied as investors sought stock in companies that might be at the forefront in the war against terrorism.

Cepheid is using genomics technologies to develop systems that could quickly detect bioterrorist agents, even before an attack. And Bruker Daltonics has developed Chemical Biological Mass Spectrometers that can be used to detect biological warfare agents. Several weeks ago, Bruker announced that it had received a $10 million contract from the United States Department of Defense for its spectrometers for chemical and biological defense. 

Shares of Cepheid and Bruker had both retreated by afternoon trading on Wednesday, with Bruker down $1.71, or 8.9 percent, at $17.50 and Cepheid down $0.31, or 3.8 percent, at $7.88.

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