Applied Biosystems (NYSE: ABI), an Applera Corporation business,announced that the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded the company a $24.5 million contract to accelerate the development of a prototype instrument system that is intended to improve the way infectious diseases are identified for epidemiological and biosecurity purposes. Upon successful completion of this project, this new system is expected to yield precise, reproducible results in less than one hour following sample processing by providing a streamlined workflow and the ability to simultaneously analyze multiple pathogen targets in a single test. Last month, Applied Biosystems successfully presented key components of the prototype to the United States Air Force, which will be responsible for validating the next-generation pathogen identification system.
The current technologies that are used to test for infectious pathogens typically reside in a centralized laboratory environment. By successfully developing a prototype system that simplifies the processing and analysis of pathogen detection tests, Applied Biosystems expects to enable a new generation of decentralized molecular detection systems that can be deployed in more diverse locations and operated by a broader range of public health and safety professionals. These new systems are also expected to introduce a more flexible, modular design that will allow for the rapid customization of new test panels – or assays – that can detect emerging pathogens.
Early prototypes have demonstrated the ability to identify up to 10 pathogens simultaneously on a test array that is the size of a credit card. Through parallel analysis of multiple gene targets, these systems are expected to provide more detailed information about the nature of each sample being tested. Such modular systems may have future applications in other areas of biosecurity as well as in forensics, animal testing and food quality testing.