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Universal Biosensors Licenses SpeeDx's MNAzyme Tech for Point-of-Care MDx Apps

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Australian diagnostics firm Universal Biosensors said this week that it has non-exclusively licensed fellow Aussie firm SpeeDx's proprietary MNAzyme technology for use in molecular diagnostics applications.

The technology is a "sensitive and highly selective" method for detecting DNA and RNA and, when combined with UBI's diagnostic biosensor technology, will enable the development of a molecular diagnostic platform "that can deliver rapid, low-cost results at the point of care," UBI said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UBI, based in Rowville, Victoria, is developing a range of in vitro diagnostic tests for point-of-care use on a technology platform that uses an electrochemical cell that can be adapted for multiple analytes and provide enhanced measurements in whole blood, the company said.

Earlier this month UBI announced a partnership with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics to develop and commercialize products for the point-of-care coagulation testing market. Paul Wright, CEO of UBI, said that as a result of that deal and the SpeeDx agreement that the company is well positioned to pursue further opportunities in molecular diagnostics.

"Performing molecular diagnostics at the point of care would have significant advantages for patients, and [UBI] is looking forward to addressing this unmet need by developing low-cost, rapid tests," he said.

Sydney-based SpeeDx spun out in 2009 from a Johnson & Johnson Australian research subsidiary to commercialize multi-component nucleic acid enzymes, or MNAzymes, a class of enzymes that it claims provides significant advantages over current enzymes for multiplex qPCR applications.

In April, a company official told PCR Insider that SpeeDx was seeking to license the MNAzymes to third parties for qPCR applications such as human in vitro diagnostics, veterinary medicine, and environmental and food testing. The official also indicated at the time that SpeeDx was eyeing collaborations with undisclosed third parties to bring point-of-care instruments and assays based on the enzymes to the human IVD market (PCR Insider 4/1/10).

SpeeDx also sells an MNAzyme-based kit to measure DNA extraction efficiency in Australia and New Zealand through research tools developer and distributor Bioline.

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