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ZyGem Inks CRADA to Develop Sample Prep Tools for Biothreat Detection

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ZyGem said today that it has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to develop simplified sample processing tools for biothreat agent detection.

As part of the CRADA, ZyGem and USAMRIID will jointly develop, test, and validate new solutions to rapidly and efficiently extract DNA and other nucleic acids in order to detect biothreat agents and other pathogens from a variety of sample matrices, including buffer, serum, whole blood, and swabs.

More specifically, ZyGem will contribute its proprietary technology for extracting DNA and other nucleic acids from diverse samples using thermophilic enzymes produced by extremophile organisms.

ZyGem, based in Hamilton, New Zealand, but with lab facilities in Charlottesville, Va., currently markets several products that use its enzymes, including EA1 protease, the key ingredient in the company’s PrepGem, ForensicGem, LivestockGem, and RNAGem families of nucleic acid extraction kits.

EA1 protease has characteristics that make it well-suited for DNA and RNA extraction in a closed tube, where a simple temperature shift modulating enzyme activity rapidly provides high-quality DNA and RNA that is ready for analysis by most PCR-based methods, while avoiding the contamination and low yields that can be encountered with other approaches, the company said.

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