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ASU Partners with Life Technologies to Develop Gene Expression Test for Radiation Exposure

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute today announced a partnership with Life Technologies to develop a gene expression test to rapidly assess an individual's exposure to radiation in the event of a nuclear incident.

The project is entering a $9.33 million contract option as part of a five-year, $35.44 million project funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 11 project teams launched in 2010, the ASU group is one of six continuing development.

Since the project launched, ASU has led research activities demonstrating that gene expression is a viable approach to directly measure radiation exposure, including identifying and validating biomarker signatures to provide an accurate indication of the level of absorbed radiation.

Under the new partnership, ASU and Life Tech will develop real-time PCR assays based on these gene signatures that would run on several Life Tech instruments including the Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Dx and the QuantStudio Dx, ASU said.

Joshua LaBaer, director of the Biodesign Institute's Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, is leading the biomarker effort. Meantime, Sally Amundson of Columbia University Medical Center in New York is providing experience in identifying radiation-responsive genes and biodosimetry measurements. Researchers from the Translational Genomics Institute in Phoenix, HTG Molecular in Tucson, and the University of Arizona also have contributed to early stages of the project, ASU said.

Ultimately, the group would need to seek regulatory approval for the assay from the US Food and Drug Administration, ASU said.

"We have completed initial scientific feasibility and now must develop a working device," Lee Cheatham, deputy director of ASU's Biodesign Institute, said in a statement. "Life Technologies' experience in delivering FDA-cleared assay systems to the marketplace is a great fit for this project. Their strong product focus will ensure that we develop for BARDA an effective and easy-to-use system."

A more detailed version of this article can be found in the current issue of PCR Insider.