Alaska Patent of the Month – July 2021

With the events of the past year, there has been an increasing demand for laboratories to be better equipped to provide rapid diagnoses of human pathogens, especially when those pathogens are infectious and unknown. Standard detection methods can currently only detect a few pathogens at a time, despite the large number of potential perpetrators. This means that should an unknown pathogen spread rapidly, doctors must order a large number of diagnostic test kits and run these for a huge number of pathogens to try and narrow it down. This is time consuming and expensive and also relies on many samples from patients. The most recent improvement to this has been the next generation sequence (NGS) technologies, which utilize DNA sequencing platforms – however, this has been limited to research rather than diagnostics. This limitation is a result of the scarcity of pathogen sequences. Without these sequences, they must analyze the patient genome sequence and attempt to detect and identify viral sequences. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has developed a method to enhance this pathogen detection by enriching a non-host sequence from a human sample.

Their development uses “non-human target primers” – oligonucleotides that can serve as primers that are designed to not hybridize to human transcripts. In order to enrich the non-host nucleic acids from a host sample, they amplify the nucleic acids which are isolated from the host sample. Amplification is done through these non-host target primers, with an amplification of about 1000 times. This enrichment allows for a greater ratio of non-host to host nucleic acids and makes it easier to detect the non-host nucleic acids. Once amplified, they utilize subtractive hybridization against a reference population of the host cDNAs to further enrich the population. The enriched population is then sequenced for detection of pathogens. This detection method can use the NGS technology, which benefits from the enrichment process, increasing the efficiency of pathogen detection.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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