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GEN News Highlights : Oct 5, 2009

FDA Awards Biosearch $3.4M for Surveillance Methods to Be Used in Pathogen Detection

Rapid multiplexed assays will be designed to detect bioterrorism agents and to determine food safety.

Biosearch Technologies has been awarded a contract from the FDA for the development of rapid multiplexed fluorescent assays to determine bioterror and food safety pathogens. Under the five-year $3.4 million contract Biosearch will collaborate with Pejman Naraghi-Arani, Ph.D., at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL), and Luminex.

The initial target analytes include Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of the plague, and Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia.  Each of the three pathogens is listed as a Category A Priority Pathogen by the NIAID. 

The aim is to develop rapid, highly specific assays for these agents. Biosearch will use bead-based assays and detection on a Luminex® xMap® platform. “The goal is to develop rapid simultaneous surveillance methods for multiple bioterror pathogens in addition to ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply,” says Jerry Ruth, Ph.D., director of research and development at Biosearch and the principal investigator under the FDA award. Dr. Naraghi-Arani, a thrust area leader in the biological detection and response program at LLNL, will serve as the contract’s technical expert.