Published July 19, 2011
Volume 19, Number 7

IntegenX DNA Sampling Tools Herald Quantum Leap in Processing Time 
Company's RapidHIT System will Automate, Accelerate Process of Producing Standard DNA Profiles 

James Nelson of IntegenX alongside an engineering prototype
of the RapidHIT.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

When IntegenX moved its 40 employees into a new 16,000 square foot corporate headquarters in Hacienda two years ago, it was still known as Microchip Biotechnologies, and the ability to perform DNA analysis in a crime lab in less than two or three days was something that happened only on television.

Since then there have been several exciting changes.

IntegenX announced its new name, to better reflect its role as a provider of sample-to-answer solutions, in March 2010. A few months ago the company doubled its original space at 5720 Stoneridge Road to make room for a workforce that now surpasses 70 employees and is still growing.

And on June 20 it announced the successful completion of field tests of a fast DNA analysis system poised to revolutionize the operation of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and law enforcement agencies around the world. The RapidHIT 200 Human Identification System automates and accelerates the process of producing standardized DNA profiles, slashing the customary turnaround time from 15 hours down to under two hours. 

The RapidHIT System was put to the test in recent field simulations conducted by DoD, relates IntegenX Director of Marketing James Nelson. Transported to an undisclosed location, the onsite equipment “repeatedly delivered correct identifications in less than two hours.” Profiles were obtained from DNA taken from cheek swabs, objects used by participants, and, in some cases, tissue samples that were several years old. The success rate of profile generation was 100 percent. “We blew their socks off,” Nelson enthuses.   

IntegenX undertook the RapidHIT technology development with the aim at creating an easy-to-use  piece of equipment for DNA identification that could be installed and utilized by “people who were not scientists or technical specialists in the military” and in police department booking stations. Right now, the system is available as a pre-production prototype, but when it attains full commercialization in 2012, the cost of the unit is targeted to be in the same range as a fully outfitted police cruiser. “It will truly change how law enforcement agencies deal with DNA data,” Nelson notes.

RapidHit follows on the heels of the debut of the Apollo 324, an automated robotic system that prepares DNA samples for the next-generation sequencing platforms. The first in this product series, the Apollo 100xl, introduced in 2010, was specifically designed for Sanger-based DNA sequencing, which at the time was the standard at the thousands of university DNA-sequencing centers around the country. Since then, several biotech firms have introduced next-generation platforms that generate thousands to millions times more data than a Sanger sequencer, a “quantum leap,” says Nelson.

“Ten years ago we were dreaming about this,” he continues. Ultimately, the advance will lead to the “$1,000 genome,” the target price for creating a human genetic profile—and the beginning of individualized medicine. 

Development work on both RapidHIT and Apollo 324 has taken place in Hacienda, and the company is now ramping up for full-scale commercialization, including onsite manufacturing. As IntegenX adds to its professional staff, Nelson is aware that location is a big recruiting tool. “There is a lot of talent in this region, and our facility is considered easy to get to from almost anywhere in the Bay area,” he comments.

For more information, visit www.IntegenX.com.

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