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ZyGem, USAMRIID to Develop Biothreat Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – ZyGem and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) will collaborate to develop sample processing solutions for use in tests for biothreat agents, the Charlottesville, Va.-based company said today.

Under the cooperative research and development agreement, the collaborators will develop, test, and validate new methods for efficient DNA and nucleic acid extraction from a range of sample types including swabs, buffer, serum, and whole blood. They will explore the utility of a number of thermophilic enzymes that are produced by extremophile organisms. The effort will evaluate and optimize ZyGem's enzyme technologies for providing sample processing capabilities for detecting a variety of biothreat agents and for use in challenging environments.

ZyGem currently markets products based on its EA1 protease, including the PrepGem, ForensicGem, LivestockGem, and RNAGem families of nucleic acid kits for use in research involving human genotyping, animal testing, and basic research.

"Molecular diagnostics offers the potential to increase the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of pathogen detection, but its use has been limited by the fact that isolation of the nucleic acids needed for the analysis is often laborious and inefficient, yielding low quality material that is contingent on the target organism and the sample matrix," David Saul, senior scientist at ZyGem, said in a statement.

"We believe our enzymatic approaches have the potential to enable the rapid preparation of high quality DNA and RNA for the timely detection of biothreat pathogens from a variety of sample matrices simply and efficiently, which could be especially valuable for use in demanding conditions in the field," Saul added.

Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

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