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DNAe Receives $10.9M From BARDA for Near-Patient NGS Prototype

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – DNA Electronics said today that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has approved the second phase of a contract for the development of a next-generation sequencing platform for rapid diagnosis of antimicrobial resistant infections and influenza.

BARDA, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, awarded London-based DNAe $10.98 million so that the firm could develop an "alpha prototype" of the platform. The award comes after DNAe completed the first phase of a contract valued at up to $51.9 million, which BARDA initiated in September 2016.

DNAe noted that it has ramped up its engagement with clinicians and end users and that it established an expert clinical advisory board in 2017.

The firm said that it has successfully sequenced the DNA of bacteria directly from an unprocessed blood sample using technologies that will ultimately be suitable for a rapid user-friendly test. To date, that has not been possible with use of sequencing technologies, which can entail long turnaround times and require specific training for users in sophisticated labs, the firm said.

The firm said that its technology will enable hospitals to precisely identify infectious agents and resistance to antibiotics, which is vital for physicians selecting targeted treatments that will be most successful in treating the infection.

"Bringing genomics and DNA sequencing closer to the patient will transform the treatment pathway by arming doctors with the information that they need to make an evidence-based treatment decision," Chris Toumazou, DNAe's executive chairman and inventor of its semiconductor sequencing technology, said in a statement.

He noted that the relative speed, simplicity, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of semiconductor sequencing allow it to be used in a wider range of settings than has been possible for DNA sequencing, and that it is "particularly suited to application in diagnosis."

Sam Reed, US president of DNAe, said the firm now has proof that this new approach works and that it needs to integrate the steps it has demonstrated into one box. He added that the firm has redesigned the DNA sequencing process to allow it to be used "for rapid diagnosis in hospitals, closer to the patient, and operated by users who are not specially-trained."

DNAe’s genomic analysis technologies are based on semiconductor DNA NGS that uses a silicon chip to detect the ions released as a DNA strand is built up molecule by molecule. Steve Allen, CEO DNAe Group Holdings, said that the firm is realizing its vision "of bringing DNA sequencing into the clinic."

The firm is also developing a multiplex PCR platform using direct-from-blood semiconductor-based diagnostics to detect bloodstream pathogens that contribute to sepsis and markers that detect antimicrobial resistance.