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Feds Award MRIGlobal $14.8M to Develop NGS Platform for Infectious Diseases

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – MRIGlobal today announced it has been awarded a three-year, $14.8 million contract to develop an end-to-end next-generation sequencing system for the clinical diagnosis of infectious diseases. 

The contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense is for the development of a sample-to-sequence platform that can generate high-quality whole-genome sequences of bacteria and viruses from blood, saliva, and other clinical samples, Kansas City, Mo.-based MRIGlobal said. The goal is a system that can identify a broad range of human pathogens from a single sample "with particular emphasis on emerging pathogens and those not identifiable by available rapid diagnostic methods," it said in a statement. 

MRIGlobal added that the technology would enable clinicians to send a single sample to a laboratory for sequencing with genomes uncovered in the sample to be identified against a developed database of microorganisms that can cause infectious diseases. According to MRIGlobal CEO Thomas Sack, current methods for identifying pathogen sequencing data can take a week to generate data. The technology to be developed will provide answers within 24 hours, he said. 

Clinical data generated by the system will be used as part of a submission to the US Food and Drug Administration for regulatory approval and then the commercial launch of the platform. 

MRIGlobal will provide technology analysis and choose components associated with sample preparation, next-generation sequencing, and bioinformatics. The company will also be in charge of systems engineering and integration, as well as testing, ahead of regulatory reviews and the commercialization of the system post-contract, it said.