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Applied DNA to increase surveillance testing utility

Nov 02, 2020
Applied DNA to increase surveillance testing utility

Applied DNA Sciences, a leader in polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based DNA manufacturing that enables diagnostics in vitro, pre-clinical nucleic acid-based therapeutic drug candidates, supply chain security, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-theft technology, announced that it plans to boost its COVID-19 testing capacity at Applied DNA Clinical Laboratories, its wholly-owned subsidiary, to support the reception to ADCL’s surveillance testing-as-a-service offering enhanced by ongoing sales and marketing outreach efforts amid a national surge in coronavirus cases. Capacity expansion will be achieved through the phased deployment of additional robotic automation that will enable increased surveillance testing throughput by a significant multiple.

“Our emphasis on expanding the throughput of our surveillance testing program is strategic: on average, we can generate more revenue per test with pooled surveillance testing of multiple individuals simultaneously than from diagnostic testing of single individuals only,” said Dr. James A. Hayward, president and CEO, Applied DNA. “Our expansion plans align with a strong response to our sales and marketing programs at both regional and national levels for our surveillance testing. We continue to develop our pipeline of surveillance testing and related Linea™ COVID-19 diagnostic assay kit opportunities and now includes certain athletics programs and the staff and faculty of a large academic institution. Furthermore, we have added numerous new clients since our recent announcement of initial surveillance testing contracts. It is clear to us that our surveillance program is being increasingly seen as a powerful tool to protect classrooms, workplaces, and other populations from COVID-19.”

Also read: Applied DNA gets patent for cotton fibres tagging

ADCL’s pooled surveillance testing program, known as safeCircle, utilises frequent, high-sensitivity pooled testing to help prevent virus spread by quickly identifying infections within a community, school, or workplace. safeCircle provides 24-hour results using real-time PCR (RT-PCR) testing.

The Company has taken delivery from robotics manufacturers to enhance the throughput for COVID-19 testing. Planned expansions include increased production of Applied DNA’s Diagnostic Assay Kit (“Assay Kit”) that powers safeCircle surveillance testing; increased sample pooling operations for high-throughput surveillance testing at ADCL and pooling support at a major academic institution; and in high-throughput viral RNA extraction and plate assembly. The Company has also installed and validated additional PCR instruments that will be deployed in its surveillance testing programs. These validations will also serve as the basis for further amendments to the Company’s EUA authorized Assay Kit for diagnostic testing.

“Recent surveillance testing successes are amplifying the value proposition of safeCircle in the marketplace,” concluded Dr Hayward. “In recent weeks, we have uncovered early infections in populations and cohorts that had tested negative via rapid antigen tests both immediately before and immediately after our positive surveillance testing. Individuals in these populations subsequently developed symptoms. Given our surveillance testing accuracy, we believe we prevented the development of COVID clusters within these tested populations and cohorts. We look to bring the same capabilities with an expanded capacity to grow our market presence regionally and elevate our profile nationally.”

Surveillance v/s diagnostic testing
Surveillance testing looks for infection within a defined population and can be used to make important health management decisions at the population level. Specimen collections are conducted via nasopharyngeal or anterior nasal swabs, and via saliva sampling, and pooled. Pooled test results are returned to the sponsoring organization in the aggregate, not directly to the individual, and may be performed without CLIA certification. Surveillance testing does not require a prescription.

In comparison, diagnostic testing looks for the occurrence of COVID-19 at the individual level. Diagnostic testing requires a prescription, and results are returned to the individual or their healthcare provider.