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ZyGEM acquires US-based MicroLab Diagnostics, offers faster DNA testing

Tuesday 25th May 2010

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New Zealand-based ZyGEM has bought Virginia, US-based MicroLab Diagnostics Inc., and is about to launch a new, speedier and simpler range of DNA and RNZ testing instruments.

ZyGEM, part of a portfolio of investments by Endeavour Capital, specialises in DNA and RNA extraction, while MicroLab has microfluid and polymer technologies. No price was disclosed.

A prototype instrument produced accurate DNA results in less than an hour, compared to results obtained with current technology that requires three separate instruments and at least five to ten hours of processing, the company said. The new products will dramatically decrease the time, complexity and cost of conducting DNA testing and have transformational potential in a broad range of applications, ZyGEM said.

“Based on favourable results achieved during the testing phase, we will initiate larger field trials later this year, followed by production in 2011,” said Endeavour Capital and ZyGEM chairman, Neville Jordan. “The initial target will be forensic and government markets, which we estimate to exceed $3 billion annually in the US alone.”

ZyGEM chief executive Paul Kinnon said “the transformative power of our technology is not a future dream. We have already presented data confirming our ability to achieve accurate results with unprecedented speed and ease-of-use. We intend to rapidly develop and commercialise our new platform with the help of selected partners.”

MicroLab has miniaturised the entire DNA testing process within a single closed system, reducing the amount of sample and reagent required, while virtually eliminating the chances of handling error or contamination.

ZyGEM’s proprietary assays and kits use a thermophilic enzyme to extract DNA or RNA from a wide range of sample types, also using a single, closed-tube system. The new company will be called ZyGEM and is to be headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It will sell the new testing kits, which are easily adapted for use with most laboratory automation systems, through a global network of distributors and partners serving the research, forensic, clinical diagnostics and livestock industries.

The company’s NZ-based laboratories will continue to develop new applications for ZyGEM’s collection of 2,000 extremophile organisms, which contain rare enzymes of potential utility in a range of applications. 

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