Brisbane biotech signs Australian first agreement

Wednesday, 21 February, 2007

Brisbane biotech company BioChip Innovations has become the first Australian company to sign a research collaboration agreement with Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME).

i.lab Incubator CEO Anne-Marie Birkill said the deal would provide BioChip Innovations access to silicon chip sensor technology developed by IME.

"BioChip Innovations is now aiming to develop the first-of-its-kind silicon nanowire biochip commercially for use in a wide range of RNA and DNA testing," Birkill said.

"This technology then has the potential to be applied to human and animal medicine, forensics, agriculture, food and environmental testing, and biosecurity."

CEO Dr Graeme Barnett said the silicon nanowire biochip was able to shorten the time for genetic testing by directly detecting single molecules of RNA or DNA.

Barnett said the detection of specific DNA was central to many areas of health care and the life sciences, ranging from uncovering and diagnosing disease to the discovery and screening of new drug molecules.

"The development of new devices that enable direct, sensitive and rapid detection and analysis of genetic sequences will impact humankind in significant ways, for example in the areas of infectious diseases, cancer, forensics, agriculture and food safety, and biosecurity," Barnett said.

Unit head, Clinical Virology Research Unit, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre at Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital, Associate Professor Theo Sloots said there is a huge potential market for this kind of application in the DNA diagnostic area.

"The application of this technology in infectious disease diagnostics offers the exciting promise of rapid testing in the laboratory and ultimately at the bedside. This will have a significant impact on health economics and models of patient care," Sloots said.

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