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ZyGEM Advances its DNA Detection and Testing Platform with Presentations at Key Conferences and Receipt of new Patent


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ZyGEM Corp. Ltd., has announced several developments supporting the advancement of its integrated microfluidics platform designed to decrease the time, complexity and cost of conducting DNA testing. These include presentations at two key scientific meetings, as well as the issuance of a new patent relating to separation technology that supports and further strengthens ZyGEM’s intellectual property portfolio.

“These scientific presentations highlighting how our innovative microfluidics system works and validating its tremendous performance advantages are helping to build interest in our unique approach,” said Paul Kinnon, president and CEO of ZyGEM. “We look forward to sharing additional data with researchers and potential customers as we progress toward beta system placements in the coming months.”

At the 21st International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI), researchers from ZyGEM’s MicroLab unit and the company’s collaborators presented three sets of studies illustrating how the component elements of the prototype RapI.D.™ system act to speed the DNA analysis process. RapI.D., which ZyGEM is developing in collaboration with Lockheed Martin, leverages MicroLab’s advanced microfluidic research to accelerate the DNA identification process-essentially building a laboratory on a microfluidic chip that reduces the processing steps, time and effort needed for analysis.

PCR amplification is the most time consuming of conventional DNA analysis steps, taking two or more hours. One of the studies presented at ISHI showed how the ZyGEM system conducts PCR amplification up to 10 times more rapidly than conventional approaches, primarily by using infrared-mediated microchip PCR to reduce the time required for thermal cycling and holding.

This study also demonstrated that compared to conventional PCR, infrared-mediated microchip PCR used far less reagent, required less sample and was compatible with commercially available short tandem repeat (STR) amplification kits.

A second study at ISHI demonstrated that rapid microfluidic separations using the ZyGEM approach could be performed on two different detection systems using a plastic microchip, rather than the conventional glass microchip. The researchers concluded that the much less costly plastic microchips worked as well as their glass counterparts, and could substantially decrease the overall cost of the analysis.

A third ISHI study assessed the overall performance of the prototype integrated microfluidics-based RapI.D. DNA analysis system ZyGEM is developing with Lockheed Martin. It showed that the multi-step process for conventional forensic STR analysis requiring 8-10 hours was completed by the RapI.D. system in less than 60 minutes, extracting DNA from crude samples in as little as four minutes and completing the PCR amplification process in less than 40 minutes, using commercially available reagents.

The data presented supported the capability of the integrated system to produce rapid, automated, “sample in-answer out” genetic analyses for accurate human identification, using standard buccal swab samples.

Dr. James Landers , chief scientific officer of ZyGEM, noted, “It is gratifying to have the opportunity to present data on our revolutionary DNA analysis platform to scientists on the front lines of using DNA to fight crime and improve the criminal justice system. Their feedback has been invaluable and their enthusiasm for the unprecedented capabilities of our technology reinforces our goal of proceeding to commercialization as soon as feasible.”

ZyGEM also announced that CEO Paul Kinnon will participate in the opening keynote session at the 2nd Annual Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress, speaking on the challenges of developing an integrated microfluidic platform for forensic DNA and diagnostic applications and how ZyGEM is addressing them.

Separately, ZyGEM reported that U.S. Patent Number 7,815,802 was issued on October 19, 2010 to the University of Virginia Patent Foundation. The patent, which is exclusively licensed to ZyGEM, covers important aspects of the fabrication of silica-based phases in microfluidic systems, which uses a process known as photo-polymerization that can be derivatized to efficiently extract DNA from samples.
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