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May 9, 2011

Akonni and Seegene Combine Technologies to Develop Respiratory Pathogen MDx Platform

  • Akonni Biosystems and Seegene sealed a nonexclusive licensing agreement through which they will combine their technologies to develop point-of-care and ultrahigh throughput multiplex diagnostic screening assays for respiratory pathogens.

    The collaboration will combine Seegene’s Dual Priming Oligo (DPO™) multiplex PCR technology with Akonni’s TruArray® gel-drop microarray platform, which the firms claim will facilitate a more streamlined workflow from sample extraction through to detection, combined with significant reduction in overall costs. “The diagnostic tests developed will provide clinical laboratories with a novel approach that is capable of detecting a broader spectrum of infections with unparalleled accuracy and speed at a lower overall cost,” state Seegene CEO Jong Yoon Chung Ph.D., and Akonni counterpart Charles Daitch, Ph.D.

    Amplifying a large bank of genes for multiplex PCR applications using multiple primer sets can generate false positives due to primer competition, dimerization, or differences in primer melting temperatures, Seegene points out. Seegene’s DPO system is functionally different from the currently used primer system, and has been designed to address this issue by blocking extension of nonspecially primed templates and so generating consistently high PCR specificity even under less optimal PCR conditions, the firm claims.

    Akonni’s TruArray technology is based on the gel-drop microarray, in which the capture probes are covalently attached to an ultrahigh surface area polymer backbone of three-dimensional gel-drops rather than a two-dimensional substrate. The individual gel drops behave as nanoliter, solution-phase test tubes, and so avoid unpredictable and/or uncharacterized artifacts arising from probe deposition directly on a two-dimensional surface, Akonni claims. The TruArray platform has been exploited for the development of a rapid, cost-effective multiplex molecular diagnostics platform, TruDiagnosis®, comprising the TruDx instrument line and assays.   

    In February Akonni inked a license agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) through which the firm has been granted full access to nucleic acid sequences, primers, and probes for a number of biological threat agents. The firm will work with the USAMRIID to develop a family of Tru-Array-based multiplexed tests for both research and IVD use in the biosecurity field. The firm says that it aims to have available by 2012 a family of field-deployable assays that can test for multiple organisms simultaneously in both environmental and clinical samples.

    Also in February Akonni launched its fully automated TruSentry® system for detecting infectious microorganisms and drug-resistant variants. Developed for use by large testing centers or government institutions, the new system combines Tecan’s Freedom EVO® 200 liquid-handling system with Akonni’s own TruTip™ technology for ultrarapid sample extraction and TruArray microarray platform.


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