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Rheonix Wins $500K NSF Grant to Develop Water-Testing App for CARD System


This story was originally published on Feb. 8.

Rheonix said today that it has received a $500,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation to continue developing its Chemistry and Reagent Device, or CARD, system to detect certain types of water contamination.

The Phase II SBIR is based upon the successful completion of a Phase I and IB project in which Rheonix developed its PCR-based testing system to rapidly detect fecal indicator bacteria in recreational water.

Such testing is routinely performed at US beaches to ensure that the water is not contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria. However, according to the grant's abstract, current testing methods require one to two days for a result, whereas the CARD system can complete testing in approximately three hours.

Rheonix said that more broadly, the CARD system can be developed to test water parks and swimming pools for other pathogenic microorganisms; and can be used in markets such as drinking water safety, food and beverage testing, therapeutics manufacturing, personal care product testing, and human and veterinary diagnostics.

Rheonix's flagship CARD system integrates sample preparation, nucleic acid amplification, and endpoint detection on a microfluidics-based, point-of-care polymeric module a few inches thick and with an approximate footprint the size of a credit card. Thus far, the company has demonstrated that CARD can process whole blood, plasma, saliva, and vaginal swabs, among other sample types, for molecular testing.

In an e-mail to PCR Insider, Richard Montagna, Rheonix's senior vice president for corporate business development and scientific affairs, said the CARD water-testing application is also molecular-based, and is unique because it can distinguish viable from non-viable organisms.

"For the most part, PCR-based tests can't do that … but we've included our own little trick to allow us to use PCR in a way to distinguish dead [from] live," Montagna said.

Rheonix, based in Ithaca, NY, is also developing the CARD system for human molecular diagnostic and prognostic applications, such as testing for common sexually transmitted diseases, organisms that cause urinary tract infections, HIV, human papillomavirus, sepsis, and warfarin sensitivity (PCR Insider, 8/5/10).