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Destina Genomics

Case Study

DestiNA Genomics is a University spinout applying ground-breaking science to deliver cost-effective, enzyme-free DNA and RNA analysis for faster identification of bacterial and viral diseases, and improved clinical diagnostic tests for cancers and other illnesses.

Bile duct cancer is difficult to detect

The Project

The company’s origins are in research and validation of novel “dynamic chemistry” approaches to the detection of nucleic acids and their mutations, undertaken by Dr Juan Diaz Mochon, Professor Mark Bradley, and PhD student Frank Bowler in the University’s School of Chemistry.

Before now, the detection and analysis of microRNAs has been a complex and expensive process of preparation, conversion and amplification, with the risk of errors. This has limited the ability of researchers to undertake more sophisticated, multiplexed studies.

With support from the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept programme, the group was able to establish that its patented SMART Nucleobases technology worked accurately to detect mutations in Cystic Fibrosis patients. In December 2010, the spinout of DestiNA Genomics was formalised with the agreement of a worldwide, exclusive licence to the technology from the University.

Error-free detection

The revolutionary DestiNA technology is capable of delivering faster, more error-free detection of nucleic acids and their mutations than current enzyme-based detection systems. The DestiNA reagents make false positive results a thing of the past. This opens up the development of improved clinical diagnostic tests for cancers and other illnesses, rapid detection of pathogenic bacteria and viruses for human health, as well as tests for food quality.

The company is developing a range of probes for nucleic acid sequences (DNA, mRNA, microRNAs), as well as its patented SMART Nucleobases, for new detection systems using fluorescent and colour dyes coupled to them (Biotin, fluorescein, amino groups). These reagents are now in the process of being trialled on commercially available mass spectrometry, micro-array, Lab-on-a- Chip and bead-based platforms.

DestiNA aims to become a significant global player in the rapidly growing molecular diagnostic market and, thanks to the test speed, accuracy and miniaturisation possible for their reagents, to become a leading provider to the emerging personalised medicine market.

In the shorter term, the company is looking to license its technology for evaluation and development agreements with pharmaceutical and detection platform companies, leading to customised reagent supply agreements.

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