Micronics Receives NIH Grant to Advance Rapid Molecular Test for Respiratory Disease Diagnosis

REDMOND, WA, – Micronics, Inc., today announced that it has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer grant totaling approximately $440,000 to develop a rapid method for nucleic acid detection of known and emerging respiratory infections. The grant advances the combined use of two novel platforms for molecular diagnosis of these pathogens at low level and in a point of care test format.

The grant entails a collaborative effort between researchers at Micronics and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI), in which a novel primer design method that enables detection of distantly related gene sequences will be used with Micronics microfluidic molecular diagnostic test platform. The PCR amplification method was developed by SCRI’s Dr. Timothy Rose and colleagues and involves a unique technology known as consensus-degenerate hybrid oligonucleotide primer method, or CODEHOP.

CODEHOP makes it possible to target conserved sequences within a pathogen family in order to identify both known and unknown variants of a disease pathogen. Using CODEHOP-generated sequences, Micronics will develop an integrated, microfluidics-based system for detection of specific respiratory disease infections. Micronics platform reduces the volume of reagent and sample required to perform nucleic acid amplification and the overall cost and time to obtain a result. The combined platform will permit rapid, near patient diagnosis of a range of pathogenic respiratory viruses, including emerging respiratory viruses.

The emergence of several new respiratory viruses, including the recent H1N1 swine flu, has raised awareness that viruses continuously evolve and emerging viruses have the potential to produce global pandemics. This emphasizes the need for a molecular diagnostic approach that is capable of accurately detecting new or variant viruses. Comprehensive virus sequence arrays exist, but these tests are expensive, limited to known sequences, have limited sensitivity and are not intended for point-of-care use.

Current multiplexed nucleic acid amplification assays and culture-based diagnostic tests in use today fail to detect viral pathogens in over 50% of samples obtained from individuals who have respiratory disease. A likely explanation for this is that there are unknown or conserved sequencevariant viruses that these current tests miss. Precise and timely diagnosis of the etiological agent that is causing respiratory symptoms is critical in order to distinguish between viral and bacterial infection for optimal medical intervention and patient care.

Grant funding for this effort is from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under the National Institutes of Health (NIH); award number 1R43 AI084851-01. The content of this release is solely the responsibility of Micronics and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or the National Institutes of Health.

About Micronics

Micronics, Inc. is advancing a family of point of care tests for molecular detection of infectious diseases in a format that permits testing to be performed wherever the need for timely and accurate information is most vital to disease surveillance and patient care. In addition to its own product development endeavors, the company offers custom microfluidics-enabled product design, development and production services on behalf of clients worldwide. For additional information please visit www.micronics.net.

About Seattle Children’s Research Institute

At the forefront of pediatric medical research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute has nine major centers, and is internationally recognized for advancing discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics. In its quest to cure childhood disease, the research institute brings discoveries to the bedside in partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. Together they are Seattle Children’s, known for setting new standards in superior patient care for more than 100 years. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information visit www.seattlechildrens.org/research.

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