The Genetic Link

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Article by: Katherine Lawless

RNA breakthroughs in autism, concussions, and COVID-19


Quadrant Biosciences is an innovative company that focuses on early detection of neurological disorders and large-scale health issues. DNA Genotek and Quadrant Biosciences have been working together to support advancements in neurological diseases, including tests for early detection of autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury through their Clarifi epigenetic diagnostic platform, to impact the way clinicians approach the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. On the latest episode of DNA Genotek’s podcast Molecules, Microbes, and Multiomics, I had the pleasure of speaking with Quadrant Biosciences’ CEO Richard Uhlig to learn more about these projects. In this blog, we selected some of the highlights of the interview, however, if you wish to listen to the full podcast you can click on the link below.

Podcast interview highlights

Quadrant Biosciences and DNA Genotek have been working together on a few initiatives for global health issues. Can you explain the relationship between the two companies and how this relationship came to be?

Richard Uhlig: “We started to learn about 5 or 6 years ago that there are molecules in the saliva (microRNAs) that may be diagnostic in nature for certain neurological disorders. We searched around the globe for a company that was producing a saliva collection kit for RNA that also stabilized those nucleic acids in the saliva. DNA Genotek had the best product (Oragene•RNA OR-100) and what we found is a very collaborative approach to working and with a young company like ourselves.”

For early detection of autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury, Quadrant Biosciences has the Clarifi epigenetics platform where clinicians can order a saliva test for their patient. The clarifi autism saliva test (which features DNA Genotek’s ORAcollect•RNA saliva collection device) is the first of its kind, a molecular test for autism. How was this test developed?

Richard Uhlig: “What we're trying to do is get children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a much earlier age so they have access to the appropriate therapeutic services. In fact, there's research that indicates that about 50% of kids [with autism] who receive behavioral therapy may be indistinguishable from their peers by the time they get to first grade. So, if we can bring a diagnostic that can help clinicians get the children into services earlier, we can literally change the life trajectory of those children and certainly for their family as well.”

In addition to autism detection, your company has been researching concussion diagnosis. Research using one of DNA Genetek's saliva RNA collection devices, discovered that saliva may hold the key to concussion diagnosis and management. Can you explain how Quadrant Biosciences found saliva micro-RNA to be important when it comes to concussion diagnosis and management?

Richard Uhlig: “We have 5 years of clinical research, where we learned that microRNA in the saliva provides a window into brain activity that we otherwise had no idea about. The development of the concussion test is an ongoing effort on our part. The sensitivity and specificity that we are achieving is unheard of...we'll be able to understand that if a patient has a certain microRNA profile, they're likely to have prolonged symptoms and we can identify certain symptoms that are likely to persist for longer periods of time. This will really help that patient better understand their [head] injury and it helps clinicians better treat those patients over longer periods.”

I understand that Quadrant Biosciences in collaboration with SUNY Upstate was recently granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for your Clarifi COVID-19 test. The Clarifi COVID-19 test leverages DNA Genotek’s non-invasive and easy self-collection saliva sample and your company’s expertise in RNA-based diagnostics to detect the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. Can you summarize the on-going efforts of this work and what you hope to bring to the fight against COVID-19?

Richard Uhlig: “This is something that we're very keenly focused on and our success in COVID-19 is largely a result of the great work and collaborative work that we at Quadrant did with SUNY Upstate Medical University as well as the team at DNA Genotek. We saw a need for people to have access to a high-quality diagnostic test so that they could have confidence in their own health. Second, they also needed access to information about the health of those around them. Lastly, they needed to be able to have confidence that policy makers were making smart and good decisions based on objective data. Based on those 3 things we developed 3 separate products that are now all fully being utilized in the marketplace.”

[Click for more information regarding Quadrant Bioscience’s work on COVID-19]

To learn more about the collaboration between DNA Genotek and Quadrant Biosciences, listen to the full podcast linked above. If you are interested in trying complimentary ORAcollect•RNA saliva kits, please click on the button below. If you have any questions, send us an email at

Request free trial kits of any DNA Genotek saliva kit

Click to learn more if you are interested in our COVID-19 sample collection products. 


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