Micronics, a development stage company that specializes in microfluidics, announced this week that the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded it an Applied Research and Technology Development Award under the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command’s Polytrauma and Blast Injury Project for the advancement of the company's lab-on-a-chip system for point-of-care molecular diagnosis of infectious pathogens.
In the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command’s Broad Area Announcement, the Armed Forces expressed interest in innovative medical technology to develop a highly accurate, rapid assay device for detecting bloodborne pathogens. The device needed would have a higher degree of sensitivity than existing equipment and provide instant results, while being durable and fully functional in field testing to withstand wartime conditions.
Micronics claims that its technology represents a significant advance over current nucleic acid-based assay systems, which are complex, expensive and can take several hours or days to complete. The company says that its system is a sample-to-answer device that is easy to use; the lightweight, portable instrument processes a cartridge into which all reagents are incorporated for rapid disease detection.
The award will advance the development of assays on the company's compact, WiFi-enabled, mains or battery-powered instrument for the direct detection of multiple bloodborne pathogens in fresh blood samples. The specific pathogens to be detected are those for hepatitis B and C (HBV, HCV), as well as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The assay is intended for use in the battlefield to screen out any infectious blood donated for transfusion.
Micronics has already begun work on the three-year project on September 30, 2010. The award funds a collaborative effort lead by Micronics’ Chief Scientific Officer, John Gerdes, Ph.D., together with Wei Mei Ching, Ph.D. who is the Senior Scientist at the Naval Medical Research Command in Silver Spring, Maryland, and John D. Scott, M.D., a Professor at the Hepatitis and Liver Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Micronics has developed a patent estate in microfluidics – the ability to substantially reduce the reagents and sample volumes required to process a diagnostic test – together with related technologies that enable the direct processing of biological and environmental samples and the performance of highly accurate tests in a fraction of the time required by most molecular diagnostic tests in use today.
The goal of the Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP) is to advance the state of medical science in those areas of most pressing need and relevance to today’s battlefield experience.