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Jan 5, 2012

ZyGEM, USAMRIID to Develop Sample Processing Solutions for Biothreat Agents

  • ZyGEM and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) signed a CRADA for the development of simplified sample processing solutions for biothreat agents. The two organizations will collaborate on the development, testing, and validation of new solutions for the rapid and efficient extraction of DNA and other nucleic acids for the detection of biothreat agents and other pathogens from a variety of sample matrices including buffer, serum, whole blood, and swabs.

    The CRADA effort will leverage ZyGEM's technology for the extraction of DNA and other nucleic acids using thermophilic enzymes produced by extremophile organisms. USAMRIID and ZyGEM intend to collaboratively explore the utility of a number of enzymes capable of isolating nucleic acids. ZyGEM's enzyme technologies will be evaluated and optimized to provide sample processing capabilities for the detection of a variety of biothreat agents and for use in challenging environments. 

    ZyGEM currently markets products based on a similar approach. The properties of its EA1 protease, the key ingredient in the company's prepGEM™, forensicGEM™, livestockGEM™, and RNAGEM™ families of nucleic acid extraction kits, make possible cost effective and flexible solutions for researchers performing a wide variety of studies including human genotyping, animal testing, and basic research, ZyGEM says. 

    This enzyme 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.

    "Molecular diagnostics offers the potential to increase the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of pathogen detection, but its use has been limited by the fact that isolation of the nucleic acids needed for the analysis is often laborious and inefficient, yielding low-quality material that is contingent on the target organism and the sample matrix," remarks David Saul, Ph.D., senior scientist at ZyGEM.

    "We believe our enzymatic approaches have the potential to enable the rapid preparation of high-quality DNA and RNA for the timely detection of biothreat pathogens from a variety of sample matrices simply and efficiently, which could be especially valuable for use in demanding conditions in the field," Dr. Saul adds.


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