Molecular Testing Labs (Molecular), a laboratory specializing in sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing utilizing dried blood spots, announces receipt of the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant in partnership with Boise State University (BSU). IGEM funds are awarded to Idaho research universities partnering with industry leaders on research projects geared toward commercialization. The IGEM Grant advances Molecular’s and BSU’s ongoing efforts to develop innovative RNA health tests for early detection, monitoring, and treatment of HIV. RNA testing can improve the quality of life for patients and significantly reduce costs associated with the diagnosis and management of the disease. Dr. Greg Hampikian, the grant’s principal investigator said, “DNA tells us what you were born with, but RNA reveals an early infection and records your body’s response to disease, treatment, and changes that you make in your life. Personalized medicine requires us to ask how the individual person is responding, and RNA gives us that.”

RNA research focuses on patients’ early disease detection and faster treatment. Currently, the DNA-based tests in the market are unable to track a patient’s response to drug treatment, diet, or other changes. RNA can now be extracted from blood spots for early detection of HIV, typically less than one week after the initial infection, instead of the three weeks to three months currently required. With RNA-based testing, a patient’s response to drug therapy can be precisely monitored. RNA testing also reveals new information about disease progression that is unavailable by DNA or protein-based testing methods.

“This project presents an innovative opportunity to introduce more effective and efficient testing capability,” said Matt Borud, Marketing and Innovation Administrator at Idaho Commerce. “By advancing RNA health testing options, Molecular and Boise State University have the potential to positively affect the health of millions of people across the world.”

EARLY DETECTION HIV TESTING
Many viruses, such as HIV, are composed of RNA molecules. Within days of infection, these molecular signatures can be detected using cutting edge technology and techniques within the laboratory. Rather than waiting for the body to produce antibodies against the virus and detecting them (which can take weeks), Molecular’s test will be able to detect the actual virus directly from a small amount of dried blood. Using a method developed at Molecular, viral RNA will be extracted from a dried blood spot, which will let people perform collections themselves rather than requiring a trained phlebotomist. Molecular’s technique will allow for the extraction of a higher quantity of intact RNA, over a longer stability period than existing methods. This means that people at risk for acquiring HIV can get tested much earlier than current methods, typically within the same week as the potential exposure. “An important key to improving public health is to encourage people to get tested earlier and more frequently. The best way to do this is to remove barriers to STI testing by providing a safe, accurate, and convenient method for sample collection,” stated Dr. Charles J. Sailey, Medical Director at Molecular Testing Labs.

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ABOUT MOLECULAR TESTING LABS
Molecular Testing Labs™ is a CLIA and CAP accredited, state-of-the-art, esoteric laboratory. We specialize in high-complexity molecular testing with an extensive portfolio of services including infectious disease, toxicology, pharmacogenetics, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), high-resolution immune profiling, and cutting-edge environmental testing. Molecular offers a variety of clinical trial services including assay development, trial site training, investigator support, and customized reporting. We maintain rigid quality control processes to ensure the highest level of quality and reliability. Molecular is founded on three guiding principles: Compliance, Innovation, and Partnership. Molecular maintains a comprehensive Compliance and Ethics Program which has become an integral part of the company’s culture. All employees, contractors and agents of the company must take annual compliance training and are held to the highest standards of conduct and integrity. For more information, visit http://www.moleculartestinglabs.com.

ABOUT BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY
A public metropolitan research university with nearly 28,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees and doubled it’s master’s degree offerings. Learn more at http://www.BoiseState.edu.

ABOUT IGEM
The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant program funds commercialization research, where university researchers and business experts partner together to bring viable technologies to market. To learn more about IGEM, visit https://igem.idaho.gov/.