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Swift Biosciences Licenses Primer Tech to Vela Diagnostics

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Swift Biosciences said this week that it has inked a technology licensing agreement with Vela Operations, the Singapore-based parent of molecular diagnostics firm Vela Diagnostics.

Under the agreement, Vela gains non-exclusive rights to use Swift's myT Primer technology for real-time quantitative PCR-based in vitro diagnostic products to detect somatic mutations in human cancer.

Vela will seek regulatory approval around the world for its assay kits, while Swift will continue to develop its myT Primers for research-use-only applications and license the technology to other partners, the company said.

"By incorporating Swift’s myT Primer technology into our real-time PCR-based molecular diagnostic products, we will provide the market with highly sensitive mutation detection capabilities which will enhance the level of cancer patient care," Michael Tillmann, Vela’s CEO, said in a statement.

Vela, which is headquartered in Singapore but maintains commercial operations in Hamburg, Germany, and New Jersey, is developing the real-time PCR-based Sentosa system for fully automated in vitro diagnostics. In July, the company said it had signed an agreement with Eppendorf to jointly develop an automated nucleic acid extraction module for the Sentosa.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Swift's myT Primers have a unique physical configuration that enables them to function only in a very narrow thermodynamic window and gives them a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. In model tube-based assays, myT Primer assays were able to detect a single copy of mutant template molecule without amplifying any of the approximately 14,000 wild-type copies of genomic DNA over 55 cycles.

In February, the company launched its first product, a BRAF mutation-detection assay, and raised $2.4 million in private financing to bolster the $3 million Series A financing it completed in August 2010 (PCR Insider, 2/23/2012).

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