Vimta licenses tech to cut diagnostic costs

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dna Bacteria

India-based CRO Vimta Labs is aiming to lower the cost of diagnostic services by developing new panels using MassTag PCR technology licensed from Columbia University, New York.

The contract research organisation (CRO) believes that by using the MassTag polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology it can develop specific clinical diagnostic panels to test for agents that result in various diseases.

In particular Vimta is targeting encephalitis, respiratory diseases, viral hemorrhagic fever, ticks and bacterial inflammation. By developing the tests Vimta expects to provide lower cost diagnostic services for multiple infections that affect the Indian population.

The technology that will underpin these developments is the MassTag PCR system developed by teams at Columbia University. Using MassTag PCR Vimta can quickly and inexpensively detect up to 30 pathogens from individual microbial and viral gene sequences.

Alternative diagnosis tools, such as fluorescence reporter systems and hybridisation enzymes, can only identify up to 10 possible agents in a single assay.

The University of Columbia’s system improves on these by adding MassTags, small chemical compounds of different molecular weight, to nucleotide primer sequences using an ultraviolet photocleaver linker.

MassTag labelled primers are designed to bind to genes of viruses, bacteria and fungi. Consequently panels of the primers will detect pathogens and this can then be amplified using PCR.

UV cleavage and mass spectrometry are then performed, after which the presence of cognate tags is used to identify the infectious agents.

Financial details of the licensing were not disclosed.

Operating income down 30%

In its recent first quarter results Vimta’s operating income fell by 30 per cent to $450,000 (€320,000). This decline is attributable to rising operating costs, in particular expenditure on consumables and testing, which rose by 22 per cent.

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