Friday, 9 March 2012

Pressure BioSciences to collaborate with Henry C. Lee Institute on PCT platform for wide-ranging forensic uses

Pressure BioSciences (NASDAQ:PBIO) said Friday that the Henry C. Lee (HCL) Institute of Forensic Sciences will evaluate the use of the company's pressure cycling technology (PCT) platform for the extraction of DNA and other biomolecules in a number of forensic areas.

The news follows an earlier collaboration announced in January with the Florida International University to use the company's PCT platform to improve rape case DNA testing with a new procedure to selectively extract male DNA from mixtures of male and female cells.

Today, however, the HCL Institute, which is considered one of the leading forensic teaching facilities in the world, said it will evaluate Pressure BioSciences' technology for the extraction of DNA from difficult-to-analyze samples such as bone, hair, plant tissue, pollen and finger nails - broadening the applications in the forensic field.

All of these samples can be important in a crime scene, cold case or archeological investigation, but current methods to prepare difficult forensic samples are often inadequate or unavailable, the company said.

The company's patented PCT platform uses rapid and repeating cycles of hydrostatic pressure at controlled temperatures to extract cell components in the preparation of a biological sample, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins from humans, animals and plants, for further study.

The applications of the company's PCT-based products are endless - from the key $2 billion target market of mass spectrometry, an analytical technique used to determine the characteristics of molecules, to biomarker discovery, forensics and counter-bioterrorism, among other uses.

In addition to traditional crime scene samples, the HCL Institute, based at the University of New Haven, will also test the PCT platform for detection of counterfeit foods, which may  adulterate important food products such as rice and tea.

The company said it believes that adding PCT to the standard sample preparation workflow for such samples could result in "greater DNA recovery, improved reproducibility, enhanced standardization, and a better overall quality of result".

"Advances in forensic science, including the development of new and improved technologies for DNA detection, may enable investigators to solve or close many cases that are challenging to forensic laboratories today," said Pressure BioSciences VP of marketing, Dr. Nate Lawrence.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a world-renown authority like Dr. Henry C. Lee and his team at the HCL Institute. We believe that better DNA extraction will result in improved detection of DNA in forensic samples, and that this improved detection will result in better prosecution of the criminal and more expedient exoneration of the innocent."

Dr. Lee has been a prominent player in many of the most challenging criminal cases of the last 45 years, including the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the OJ Simpson and Laci Peterson slayings, the post-911forensic investigation, and the Beltway sniper shootings.

During his career, he has worked with law enforcement agencies worldwide in helping to solve more than 6,000 cases. He is a recipient of the Medal of Justice from the Justice Foundation, and is a chaired professor of forensic science and founder of the Forensic Science Program at the University of New Haven.

Dr. Lee, the Chief Emeritus for Scientific Services and former Commissioner of Public Safety for the State of Connecticut, has also served as Connecticut’s Chief Criminalist since 1979.

In a statement Friday, Dr. Lee commented: "We are impressed with the data generated by Dr. Bruce Budowle and his team at the University of North Texas related to the increased detection of DNA in difficult, low copy samples. We are also impressed with the findings of Dr. Bruce McCord and his team at Florida International University related to the potential use of the PCT Platform to enhance the processing of rape kits.

"We are thus excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Pressure BioSciences to examine the potential applications of their PCT Platform in improving the collection of forensic evidence, particularly DNA, in several additional, important areas of forensics."

Since Pressure BioSciences began commercial operations in the middle of 2007, it has come a long way, releasing a number of PCT-based products geared towards the $6 billion sample preparation market, including three pressure-generating instruments named Barocyclers, a patent-pending sample homogenization device (The Shredder SG3), five types of single-use processing containers and six different, application-specific reagent kits.

Already, the company has installed around 200 of its PCT Barocycler instruments plus required consumables in laboratories. The sample preparation system has been proven to be safer, more accurate, reproducible, and much faster than current cell extraction methods - with up to 48 samples able to be processed from a wide variety of cells and tissues within minutes.

On Wednesday, Pressure BioSciences, announced that data supporting advantages of its PCT platform were presented last week at the 56th annual meeting of the Biophysical Society in San Diego, California and this week at the 8th annual US Human Proteomic Organization Conference in San Francisco.

At the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, researchers reported the development of a specially-designed, pressure-based Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) system that uses rapid changes in pressure to monitor the rate of protein conformational changes likely related to a protein’s function. This strategy allows the investigation of events that would be difficult or impossible to study by conventional EPR technology.

At the US HUPO Conference, Dr. Alexander Lazarev, VP of research and development for Pressure BioSciences, reported on the benefits of the application of high pressure in sample preparation for proteomic research, directed towards the discovery of protein biomarkers for human disease. Data from the study indicated that pressure-enhanced sample preparation can help to discover proteins that have been traditionally difficult to detect, the company said.

In a statement Wednesday, president and CEO of Pressure BioSciences, Richard T. Schumacher, said: “We believe these studies, in combination with existing data reported by other researchers using the PCT Platform, strongly indicate that PCT can enhance the recovery, detection, and measurement of proteins from a wide variety of samples, and thus should be considered as part of the standard proteomic sample preparation workflow.

"As part of our 2012 commercialization plan, we will be focusing a large amount of our marketing effort on drug development and biomarker discovery laboratories, where we believe these exciting and convincing proteomic data will allow us to be highly successful in increasing the sales of our PCT Systems.”

Indeed, Pressure BioSciences has been accelerating its commercialization efforts as of late. Earlier this month, the life sciences company inked another distribution deal with Netherlands-based life sciences company LA Biosystems BV. In February, it announced the signing of a co-marketing and selling agreement with Digilab, and late last year, inked a partnership with IUL to distribute its PCT product line in Germany and Switzerland.

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