U.S. Genomics awarded $16.2 Phase II biodefense contract

Published 30 November 2005

DHS Advanced Research Project Agency (HSARPA) has awarded Woburn, Massachusetts-based U.S. Genomics a Phase II contract to continue development of the company’s biological sensor for biodefense applications. The contract is part of the Bioagent Autonomous Networked Detectors (BAND) program. The eighteen-month, $16.2 million contract will complete technology and prototype development of Genomics’ system for the detection and identification of airborne pathogens using the company’s DNA mapping technology. The contract award follows the completion on 31 October 2005 of an eighteen-month, $7.5 million Phase I HSARPA BAND contract.

Genomics is a leader in single molecule biology tools for the life sciences industry. Its DNA mapping technology allows precise “broadband” detection of airborne pathogens in an environmental sample. The technology’s readings are sensitive to the single-molecule level and yield extremely low false positive rates. Using a universal reagent set which can detect and identify pathogens, the technology produces a genetic signature unique to each DNA fragment in the sample, and also identifies the organism from which the DNA originates. Unlike other detection technologies, Genomics’ detection platform does not require amplification or the use of pathogen-specific reagents for detection of each threat organism. U.S. Genomics’ approach also has the potential to identify genetically modified species such as those which may have been deliberately engineered to elude traditional detection methods.

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