PositiveID develops biological detection and diagnostics systems, including its M-BAND and Firefly Dx systems, which use real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) chemistry. PCR amplifies a sample’s DNA and copies it billions of times. PCR is used every day to diagnose diseases, identify bacteria and viruses, and for many other applications. With real-time PCR, the amplification of the DNA can be measured as it occurs, thereby speeding up the ability to deliver results. Real-time PCR is one of the most sensitive and specific bio-detection capabilities available today.
A critical and highly complicated step prior to performing real-time PCR is sample preparation. PositiveID’s patented sample prep technologies use ultrasonic lysis for the rupture of tough cellular membranes. The lysed sample is then microfluidically passed through a purification apparatus that isolates and purifies nucleic acid. The Company’s expertise in sample prep is reflected by its strong intellectual property position.
The Company began developing complex microfluidic systems to perform sample processing and purification for the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA). It then developed a similar system, including a thermal cycler for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis for the US Army's Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command (ECBC).
PositiveID's microfluidic technology replaces robotics with integrated microfluidics, reducing cost and increasing reliability. Its microfluidic technology also automates and increases the effectiveness of key sample processing steps used today on the laboratory bench-top, into a closed, automated system. The embedded devices perform cell lysis (including difficult spores) in less than one minute at low power, nucleic acid purification along with inhibitor removal and pre-concentration of the nucleic acids up to factors of 1000X within minutes. These processes all occur autonomously within a fully contained disposable microfluidic cartridge.