A Medical Device Daily

Isis Pharmaceuticals (Carlsbad, California) reported that its Ibis division has been granted two new contracts totaling $1.5 million from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to further develop a microbial forensics application of the company’s Triangulation Identification for Genetic Evaluation of Risks (TIGER) biosensor system.

Microbial forensics is used to investigate crimes involving infectious agents, by comparing the genetic “fingerprint” of an infectious agent to that of a potential source. The new awards also will support enhancement of the Microbial Rosetta Stone (MRS) database, a key component of the TIGER system, to include additional genetic information concerning infectious agents.

Isis says that the TIGER biosensor can identify a range of infectious organisms, including those that are newly emerging, genetically altered and unculturable.

Michael Treble, Isis’ vice president and head of Ibis, said that the microbial forensics application of the TIGER biosensor system and continued database development “add a new layer of depth and precision to the information the system can provide to our customers . . . TIGER will now be able to differentiate closely related infectious agents and their relatedness to other strains and species.”

Isis’ MRS database is a combination of software and data used to compare the genetic information of an infectious agent against other organisms in the database. Data from the MRS database then can be used to assess attributes of the infectious agents, such as drug resistance and virulence.

Additional government-funded TIGER applications in development include bioweapons defense, epidemiological surveillance and biological products screening.

Isis said it founded the Ibis division to take advantage of the company’s expertise in RNA to create a new approach to the identification of bacterial and viral organisms. To date, Ibis reports garnering $37.5 million from government partners. An additional $10.1 million is committed under existing contracts and grants.