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Research grant could help fight terrorism
DNA Polymerase Technology seeks to ID harmful soil agents.
  •    Rachel Melcer
    st. louis post-dispatch
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
  • June 8, 2006
  • Section: Business
  • Edition: Third Edition
  • Page B2

DNA Polymerase Technology Inc. said Wednesday that it is receiving a two-year, $300,000 federal grant to develop a means for detecting harmful biological agents in soil.

The company, based at the Inventery commercial lab building on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis, said it will collaborate with researcher Christopher Taylor of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. DNA Polymerase Technology also will hire an additional scientist, bringing its staff to four people.

Led by Wayne Barnes, founder and president, the company is developing polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests for detecting DNA. Barnes is an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine. He also owns the Inventery.

His company was awarded the federal Small Business Innovation Research grant by the Department of Agriculture to develop tests that can spot naturally occurring roundworm pests, or potential bioterrorism agents such as anthrax, in soil. Roundworms, also known as nematodes, account for about $77 billion in annual crop losses.

DNA Polymerase Technology is working with an anti-bioterrorism company as a potential commercial partner, said business manager John Hartman, though he declined to name it.

This is the second Small Business Innovation Research grant received recently by DNA Polymerase Technology. In March, it received a two-year, $600,000 National Institutes of Health award for developing medical diagnostics.

The company hopes to commercialize tests that can detect diseases such as HIV or hepatitis in whole blood samples, which would be more efficient and cheaper than current methods, Hartman said.

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