anthrax Anthrax (CDC/Dr. James Feeley)

LexaGene Meets with DHS CWMD Office on Developing Bio-Threat Detection

LexaGene Holdings Inc., the creator of pathogen detection instrumentation, announced today that the firm recently conducted an industry meeting with the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The discussion centered around modifying LexaGene’s technology for bio-threat surveillance and other homeland security-related operations.

Dr. Jack Regan, LexaGene’s CEO and founder, previously developed a DHS-funded Autonomous Pathogen Detection System to screen the air for weaponized bacteria.

“Although LexaGene is currently focused on commercial markets such a veterinary diagnostics and food safety, modifying our technology for bio-threat surveillance and general war fighter applications is easily done because the system is open-access,” Regan said. “For this reason, we felt it was important to have a one-on-one meeting with DHS’ Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Program.”

The exact date of the meeting was not released.

Dr. Kimothy Smith, a former senior advisor for DHS’ International Biodefense Group and former acting director of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center, said that the technology can be rapidly configured.

“The government is extremely concerned about ‘Disease X’, which is viewed by the World Health Organization as an unknown pathogen that has the potential to spark a global pandemic,” Smith said. “Because LexaGene’s system can be rapidly configured to screen samples for new bio-threat agents, whether they are bioengineered by a domestic or foreign adversary, or evolved from nature, the technology is of utmost importance to the government.”

Regan said his firm’s tech has been able to provide quick results.

“We developed LexaGene’s technology to address the weaknesses of the APDS system, namely by increasing the instrument’s ability to process more than one sample at the same time, by incorporating a quality sample-preparation step for improved sensitivity, by expanding the multiplex capability for better sensitivity and specificity, and by reducing the turn-around time to obtain results in about one hour. Collectively, these benefits make the technology well suited to serve many markets,” he said.

LexaGene is headquartered in Beverly, Mass., and after the meeting with DHS attended a Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.

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Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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