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AM Biotechnologies, LLC Receives Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics Grant

12/22/2011 8:23:04 AM

HOUSTON – AM Biotechnologies, LLC (AM Biotech) announced today that it has received a three-year, $1.7 million Point-of-Care Diagnostics grant through Grand Challenges in Global Health, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that seeks to engage creative minds across scientific disciplines — including those who have not traditionally taken part in health research — to work on solutions that could lead to breakthrough advances for those in the developing world. Dr. Ross Durland, Director of Product Development at AM Biotech, will pursue an innovative point-of-care diagnostics project, titled “Ambient-stable X-Aptamer Affinity Agents.”

The Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics program provides funding to scientists and researchers worldwide to create technologies and components to assess conditions and pathogens at the point-of-care in the developing world. Dr. Durland’s project is one of 22 Grand Challenges Point-of-Care Diagnostics grants announced Dec. 15.

“New and improved diagnostics to use at the point-of-care can help health workers around the world save countless lives,” said Chris Wilson, Director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Our hope is that these bold ideas lead to affordable, easy-to-use tools that can rapidly diagnose diseases and trigger timelier treatment in resource-poor communities.”

Projects that are receiving funding show promise in creating Point-of-Care Diagnostics that will be easy to use, low cost and otherwise appropriate so that they achieve significant impact and rapid uptake in resource-poor settings.

Dr. Durland’s project will focus on developing X-Aptamer molecules based on chemically modified DNA. They will be used in diagnostic instruments to detect and quantify specific biomarkers of disease in patient samples. X-Aptamers are stable in high temperatures and humidity without special storage conditions, and can be used in a wide range of diagnostic platforms. This makes X-Aptamers very appealing for use in low-resource areas of the world where refrigeration and climate control are not typically available. The chemical modifications used in X-Aptamers are not found in natural DNA but are expected to provide better, more specific binding of the molecules to the targeted biomarkers. Because X-Aptamers are synthesized chemically, they can be easily manufactured in high purity at a very reasonable cost. These highly flexible molecules are compatible with virtually any type of sample and diagnostic detection technology.

About Grand Challenges in Global Health

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes that solving our greatest global health issues is a long-term effort. Through Grand Challenges in Global Health, the Foundation is committed to seeking out and rewarding not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs and innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to fight diseases that claim millions of lives each year. We anticipate that additional grants will be awarded through the Grand Challenges program in the future.

About AM Biotechnologies, LLC

Established in 2006, AM Biotechnologies, LLC, is a Houston-based, private, for-profit company that uses proprietary processes to develop novel DNA-based affinity capture reagents for all segments of the life science market. For more information about the company and its technologies, visit

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