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Ceres Wins $750K DARPA Grant to Develop Zika, Pathogens Tests

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Ceres Nanoscience said today it has received a $750,000 award from the US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the company's Nanotrap technology for detection of Zika and other pathogens.

Ceres will use the funds to work in collaboration with George Mason University to apply the Nanotrap platform to capturing and concentrating viruses from non-invasive samples, including urine and saliva, to enable improved detection. Developed at George Mason, the Nanotrap platform uses hydrogel particles to capture, preserve, and enrich target analytes, allowing for more sensitive detection of low abundance molecules.

The platform's "ability to rapidly concentrate and detect viruses at extremely low levels, from non-invasively collected samples, such as urine, will allow for easier and more accurate diagnosis of Zika and other emerging pathogens,” Ben Lepene, Ceres' chief technology officer and director of R&D, said in a statement.

Ceres announced last week that it had raised $3 million of a planned $9 million in a Series A funding round aimed at supporting development of tests including its lead product, a diagnostic for Lyme disease.