Eureka Genomics given grant to fight anthrax

Eureka Genomics recently received a grant worth $750,000 to develop technology to detect rare forms of Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax pathogen.

The company was awarded the two year Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Grant by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate after completing a six month Phase I contract worth $100,000, according to

During the first phase of the project, Eureka was able to use its bioinformatics tools to distinguish rare strains of B. anthracis. In the project’s second phase, according to Eureka’s co-founder Didier Perez, researchers plan to develop a full detection platform for minority variants of anthrax.

Eureka’s proprietary technology is based on intellectually property that it developed with the University of Houston, reports. The technology forms the basis with which the company hopes to build anthrax-specific pipelines that can identify variants in the anthrax’s genome and then test them.

Viacheslav Fofanov, Eureka’s director of bioinformatics, told that the project could lead to improvements in detection and identification of anthrax samples that could provide vital information for the investigation and prosecution of bioterrorism attacks or attempts.

Plans for a round three of funding include beginning pipelines for HIV and cancer, according to Perez. Eureka hopes to complete the second round by June 2013.