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Micropharma Develops Digital PCR-based Test for Bacterial Gene in GI Tract


To assay a common risk factor for gastrointestinal ailments, Montreal-based Micropharma this week announced this week it has completed development of a new digital PCR-based test.

Using Bio-Rad droplet digital PCR, the test assays a gene though to play an important role in digestion, bile salt hydrolase (bsh). The gastrointestinal microbiome usually contains bacteria expressing the bsh gene, which produces an enzyme essential for modifying bile acid.

Recent scientific reports have linked inflammatory and metabolic disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hypercholeseterolemia, and type II diabetes with low levels of bsh. Micropharma said that its test can now provide healthcare practitioners with absolute measures of this gene's abundance in a patient's GI tract.

The test, called Microbiome SenseIT bsh replaces sequencing of the gut microbiome and bioinformatics, with results available in a few hours and at a fraction of the cost, Micropharma said. Droplet digital PCR on gut-derived samples amplifies diluted bacterial DNA using fluorescently labeled probes, such that bsh gene copies can be counted with 95 percent accuracy the company said. Further, the accuracy of droplet digital PCR is up to 10 times higher than that of traditional qPCR, the company added.

Micropharma is focused on the discovery and commercialization of products based on the human microbiome for diagnosis and treatment of metabolic diseases. The company said it plans to add to its line of SenseIT microbiome assays.