DHS funds development of biosensor for microbial forensics

CARLSBAD, Calif., 18 April 2005. Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that its Ibis division has been granted two new contracts totaling $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS-S&T).

CARLSBAD, Calif., 18 April 2005. Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that its Ibis division has been granted two new contracts totaling $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS-S&T).

The new contracts provide funding for the development of a new microbial forensics application of the company's TIGER (Triangulation Identification for Genetic Evaluation of Risks) biosensor system.

Microbial forensics is a new type of forensics used in the investigation of crimes involving infectious agents which compares the genetic "fingerprint" of an infectious agent to that of a potential source. The new awards will also support further enhancement of the Microbial Rosetta Stone (MRS) database to include additional genetic information on infectious agents. The MRS database is a key component of the TIGER biosensor system. These new contracts broaden TIGER's government and non-government commercial applications and product opportunities.

Isis' proprietary MRS database is a combination of software and data that can be used to identify infectious agents, then compare their genetic information to other organisms in the database. Information generated by the MRS database can then be used to assess specific attributes of the infectious agents, such as drug resistance and virulence. Under the DHS-S&T award for the continued development of the MRS database, Isis will develop software to enhance the design of, and interpretation of data from, microbial identification assays.

"The microbial forensics application of the TIGER biosensor system and continued database development add a new layer of depth and precision to the information the system can provide to our customers. In addition to identifying infectious agents, TIGER will now be able to differentiate closely-related infectious agents and their relatedness to other strains and species," said Michael Treble, Isis' vice president and head of Ibis. "This new application will be invaluable for the law enforcement, public health, and biodefense sectors as it will provide them with critical information for responding more effectively to a biological threat. Further, this application supports broader commercial opportunities as a means of tracking emerging infectious diseases."

Isis' TIGER biosensor system has the potential to revolutionize the identification of infectious diseases. The technology can rapidly identify a broad range of infectious organisms, including organisms that are newly- emerging, genetically altered, and unculturable. Additional government-funded TIGER applications in development include bioweapons defense, epidemiological surveillance, and biological products screening. Ibis plans to deploy TIGER biosensor systems and related products to government partners in 2005.

"In just four years, we have expanded the applications of the TIGER biosensor system to include bioweapons defense, epidemiological surveillance, biological products screening and now, microbial forensics," said David J. Ecker, Ph.D., Isis' vice president and scientific head of Ibis. "The funding that we have received from various government agencies allows us to continually enhance and further expand the scope of the technology. Additionally, this funding is a testament to the broad applicability and robust analysis capabilities of the TIGER biosensor system."

The development of the microbial forensics application of the TIGER biosensor system and MRS database is supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under contract numbers W81XWH-05-C-115 and W81XWH-05-C-116.

To develop TIGER technology and applications, Isis' Ibis division has received contracts from a number of government agencies, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To date, Ibis has earned $37.5 million in revenue from government partners. An additional $10.1 million is committed under existing contracts and grants, with the potential for added funding.

Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is exploiting its expertise in RNA to discover and develop novel human therapeutic drugs for its pipeline and for its partners. The company has successfully commercialized the world's first antisense drug and has 10 antisense products in development to treat metabolic, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Through its Ibis division, Isis is developing a system to identify infectious organisms. As an innovator in RNA-based drug discovery and development, Isis is the owner or exclusive licensee of more than 1,500 issued patents worldwide. For more information, see www.isispharm.com.

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