31 Jul EraGen’s Revolutionary Genomic-Based Technologies
SARS and Cystic Fibrosis detection has been a priority
MADISON, Wis. – EraGen Biosciences of Madison, WI is a pioneering biotechnology company that designs, develops and commercializes genomic-based products and novel nucleic acid technologies. With start-up funding in 1999 from the pharmaceutical firm Novartis and private investors, the company has grown to 32 employees, including world-renowned scientists, software engineers, and management professionals.
Two of the company’s latest developments include the SARS diagnostic kit and rapid genetics tests for cystic fibrosis, which have helped to propel the company’s status as a biotechnological leader in Wisconsin.
With the recent outbreak of the SARS epidemic, it became important to develop a quick and accurate test to diagnose the disease. Immediately after the SARS genome was sequenced, EraGen went to work developing a rapid test to detect SARS using its proprietary AEGIS (An Expanded Genetic Information System) Technology. This technology allows for rapid and direct DNA detection and added to EraGen’s growing number of molecular diagnostic products in the infectious disease area.
Gary Madsen Ph.D., chief technical officer at EraGen and commercial diagnostic product expert, believes that time was of the utmost importance when proceeding with the SARS assay. “With an outbreak like SARS, our test is a quick response and the ability to detect this quickly will definitely help minimize the spread of the virus,” he said.
In addition to work with SARS, EraGen has received Fast Track funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a rapid genetic test system targeted at detecting Cystic Fibrosis (CF).
EraGen, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, and the State Laboratory of Hygiene collaborated on a proposal to develop a rapid test for the NIH.
“We are looking forward to testing the system here at our facility,” stated Ron Leassig, Ph.D., director of the State Laboratory of Hygiene. “Wisconsin has prided itself on being on the forefront of technology when it comes to CF-related screening. This technology will be a major step forward.”
With the NIH funding, EraGen is currently using AEGIS to design an automated screening system for CF to be sold to specialized testing laboratories. The State Laboratory of Hygiene will conduct the beta testing of the final system. EraGen’s system will provide the state lab and other testing facilities across the country a sensitive, reliable, and low cost solution for CF screening.
With these technological advances, EraGen is rapidly becoming a major player in the biotech research field. Irene Hrusovsky, M.D., president and CEO of EraGen, believes EraGen and other biotech industries will be vital to the growth of the nation’s economy. “Clearly, I think the whole industry is an important contributor to the economic growth of Wisconsin. We in Wisconsin are looking at biotech as an important driver of the new economy for Wisconsin,” she said. “We have an edge in Wisconsin because in the Midwest we are clearly the leading state with biotech entrepreneurship.”
Jamie Lyn Hofmeister is a freelance technology writer and regular contributor to the Wisconsin Technology Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.