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HHS Helps Advance Genetic Sequencing Technology

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced it is helping develop new genetic sequencing platforms to help curb the spread of influenza and antibiotic-resistant infections.

ASPR formed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with DNA Electronics (DNAe) of London, United Kingdom, and Carlsbad, California, to advance the develop,pment of the Genalysis sequencing platform. This new platforms will take DNA and RNA and determine the genetic code and identify the organism within two to four hours–much quicker than the previously used Sanger sequencing method.

This new technology will help clinicians treating infected patients to anticipate antibiotic-resistant strains and diagnose the specific strain of the virus or bacteria. It can also be used by health care and public health labs and ERs to sequence pathogen genes in patient samples and determine the pathogens resistance to certain drugs.

Under the contract, DNAe will further develop and test the Genalysis sequencing platform to support their applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for platform clearance.

“More rapid diagnoses will allow clinicians to ensure the right treatment is being given, providing faster care for their patients and potentially curbing the spread of pathogens,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, Acting Director, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). “This platform could help enable a faster and more accurate public health response to pandemic influenza and antibiotic resistant infections.”

BARDA plans to couple the Genalysis sequencing platform with another BARDA sponsored technology that produces purified samples for testing and analysis.  This combination could allow clinicians without sophisticated training to take samples and identify pathogens quickly and easily.

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