Optical mapping instruments for clinical microbiology applicationsOpGen Technologies, Inc., plan to develop and commercialize Optical Mapping instruments and disposables for research and clinical microbiology applications. The company expects to launch the first system early in 2007.
OpGen's Optical Mapping service is already available at OpGen's headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin but demand has been increasing for users to have the technology in their own laboratories.
The Optical Mapping system is designed to investigate changes in genome structure, such as insertions/deletions ("indels"), translocations, inversions and other events including lateral gene transfer. The system offers significant advantages over other technologies used in genome research today. Unlike microarray and SNP genotyping systems that generally require preexisting sequence information, Optical Mapping can be used to study the greater than 99.9 percent of organisms that have not yet been sequenced.
The company also has initiated the development of instruments tailored to the needs of the clinical microbiology market for rapid identification and characterization of pathogenic organisms. OpGen's new system will be capable of identifying bacteria down to the strain level, within a single six-hour shift.
Dr. Sanjay Shukla, Research Scientist at The Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation commented that, "OpGen's technology is an extremely powerful approach for identifying changes in genome architecture in evolving pathogens or genetically-engineered organisms. Comparative Optical Mapping allows one to quickly focus on areas of a genome where a significant insertion or deletion has taken place. Certainly, this technology will greatly aid in studying the changing population genetics of bacterial pathogens undergoing some selective pressure. I can only imagine the benefits of this technology to clinical microbiology laboratories if available via an automatically-run platform."
Building upon improvements incorporated during development of the first genome analysis instrument, the clinical microbiology Optical Mapping system compares DNA isolated directly from microbial cells in clinical samples to a comprehensive database of optical genome maps, providing unequivocal microbial identification within a single shift. The system will eliminate long incubation times for bacterial pathogens, offering improved diagnosis and selection of antibiotics. Other advantages include the ability to identify difficult-to-culture organisms such as obligate anaerobes that constitute a serious, and increasing, medical problem. It will also provide a powerful tool to combat the growing medical threat of hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections.According to the Lewin Group, a premier national health care and human services consulting firm, there are now around two million hospital-acquired infections each year in the U.S., costing more than $28,000 on average to treat, per patient, and resulting in over 100,000 deaths annually.
In addition to genome research and clinical microbiology laboratories, OpGen Technologies expects to market its Optical Mapping systems through collaborations and partnerships in the molecular diagnostics, environmental, food and beverage handling and industrial sectors, collectively a multi-billion dollar market space.
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Posted on April 6, 2006