The Genetic Link

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Article by: Ian Curry

DNA Genotek’s top ten list for 2011


It’s that time of year again when I reflect on the past year and highlight DNA Genotek’s top ten list for 2011. This is now the third installment of my annual top ten list series and each year, I am surprised at how difficult it is to keep this list to just ten items. I easily come up with 20 to 30 topics that could be on this list and struggle to choose those most deserving of a mention. This year, there were many significant events for DNA Genotek. After much deliberation, here is my top ten list for 2011, in no particular order.

  1. DNA Genotek’s acquisition by OraSure Technologies. There is no denying that DNA Genotek’s acquisition by OraSure Technologies in August of 2011 was a very significant event for the company. However, I am particularly proud that our customers experienced a seamless transition during the acquisition process. DNA Genotek continues to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of OraSure Technologies and maintains all operations in Ottawa, Canada. DNA Genotek and OraSure share a common capability and passion to develop best-in-class oral fluid-based collection and testing solutions. I am thoroughly impressed with the team at OraSure and the opportunities they have worked hard to develop over the past few years. I believe the acquisition will have a long-term positive impact on both entities and most importantly, to our customers.
  2. Oragene•DNA facilitates advancement of personalized medicine. Another year has passed and personalized medicine continues to be an area of strong growth. In 2011, Oragene•DNA played a significant role in broadening access to personalized medicine around the world. In January, DNA Genotek was nominated as the Personalized Medicine World Congress’s Most Promising Company of the Year and we fostered relationships with  many new customers who are focused on making personalized medicine a reality. While personalized medicine has the ability to impact most every individual in some way, we are only in the beginning stages of an area that holds so much promise for radical health improvements.
  3. Oragene•RNA enables human biomonitoring in spaceflight. While DNA Genotek is most well known for its DNA collection kits, our Oragene•RNA kit was involved in several notable projects in 2011. The kit was selected by VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), for a series of biomonitoring research projects including the effect of confinement on the neuro-immune system during an extended stay at the Concordia Research Station on the Antarctic Plateau and the effect of stress on human volunteers participating in parabolic flights. Oragene•RNA’s unique ability to stabilize an RNA sample for months at ambient temperatures makes it ideal for these challenging environments.
  4. Spitting for Science. In September of 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) launched a unique program using Oragene•DNA. The incoming class of freshman students received an email invitation to participate in “Spit for Science”, the VCU student survey. This is a voluntary and confidential research project aimed at understanding how genetic and environmental factors contribute to alcohol use and emotional health. Not only was our Oragene•DNA product chosen for this project, but VCU utilized our marketing team to create the signage, banners, web graphics and promotional items for the launch of this project. This is one example of a new way to engage students in genetics and the promise it holds for personalized medicine.
  5. The launch of the DNA Genotek Grant Program. In October of 2011, we launched a program designed to uncover new, innovative applications for our products. The DNA Genotek Grant Program encompasses three primary areas of focus: cancer, personalized medicine and infectious disease. We created this program to reward scientists who are accelerating the application of genetics to gain knowledge in these critical areas of research. This is the first time we have made a program like this available and we’re excited to see the proposals coming in. The winning research proposal will receive up to $30,000 US and up to 500 DNA Genotek sample collection kits. If you haven’t already submitted your application, it’s not too late. The deadline is January 16, 2012.
  6. New products for new markets. We continued to expand our product portfolio in 2011 and launched our first collection and stabilization kit for microbial DNA, OMNIgene•DISCOVER. Diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites are major causes of death, disability, and social and economic disruption for millions of people – nearly all live in developing countries. We’re already seeing research that demonstrates OMNIgene’s effectiveness and I’m excited about the opportunities in this new market.
  7. Oragene•ANIMAL helps save endangered species. Thanks to a research team from the Western University of Health Sciences, snow leopards are now reaping the benefits of a new molecular diagnostic test to detect papillomavirus (PVs). This test can detect the virus prior to the development of disease and can be used for veterinary screening and to prevent transmission of the disease to other animals. The use of saliva (with Oragene•ANIMAL) offers a considerable advantage since it allows for non-invasive sample collection, which can eliminate the need for chemical restraint. It’s clear that DNA testing can have uplifting consequences – not only for humans but for endangered species as well.
  8. New customers joining the DNA Genotek community. In 2011, we saw some great new customers join our community. The Oragene•DNA product was selected by the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the National Health Service (NHS) for a large scale project to that aims to unlock genetic changes behind developmental disorders. Other new customers include the International Collaboration on ADHD and Substance Abuse (ICASA) who chose Oragene•DNA to research the prevalence of ADHD in substance abuse disorders. Every year, we significantly increase the number of new customers using our products and this growth is the best testament to our product quality, reliability and ease of use.
  9. DNA Genotek named to The Scientist Magazine’s Best Places to Work in Industry. This year, I was so proud to see that DNA Genotek was named to this prestigious list. I am always proud of our employees and their attention to our customers’ needs. Knowing that they love working here makes it exciting to come to the office each morning.
  10. FDA 510(k) clearance for Oragene•Dx. I would certainly be remiss if I left the 510(k) clearance of Oragene•Dx off my top ten list for 2011. In December, Oragene•Dx became the first and only saliva DNA collection and stabilization device to receive 510(k) clearance. Securing 510(k) clearance ensures that clinical diagnostic and personalized medicine test providers can experience the benefits of Oragene with an FDA cleared product. This FDA clearance provides added flexibility to diagnostic customers who wish to offer their patients the non-invasive, reliable and easy-to-use Oragene•Dx sample collection device as an alternative to blood collection. What a great way to end an incredible year!

I hope you enjoyed this third edition of my annual top ten list. 

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