Lucigen receives grant to develop influenza screen

Lucigen Corp. recently received a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop a new type of influenza test.

The NIH grant comes from the Small Business Innovation Research Project and will be used to design a device that is intended to be less complex and expensive as current diagnostics, according to

Lucigen said that it is basing its device on the discovery of an enzyme that converts influenza RNA to DNA and can then multiply that DNA in minutes so that the virus can easily be identified.

"We plan the world's first nucleic acid-based test for viral infections that is cost-effective and can be safely and easily used directly at the physician's office, eliminating the need to send the sample off to central testing laboratories," David Mead, the founder and chief executive of Lucigen, said, reports.

When completed, the test will screen for influenza A and B, as well as for respiratory syncytial virus.

Lucigen is known for marketing enzymes and cloning kits to scientists. The test is expected to take the company in a new direction, according to Lucigen spokesman Curtis Knox. Knox said that he expects that Lucigen will need to expand its operations, but that it was too soon to tell.

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