DNA Screening System Helps Companies Detect and Characterize Biosecurity Threats

The dual-use nature of emerging biotechnology necessitates biosecurity measures in industry, particularly for the gene synthesis sector which produces DNA sequences to order.

The ThreatSEQ™ DNA screening web service, developed by researchers at Battelle, is a first-in-kind database built on more than a decade of research into the factors that make pathogens dangerous. It compiles more than 10,000 sequences of concern comprising 850 sequence types of concern from 75 species of bacteria, 96 viruses, 12 eukaryotic pathogens and other contributors to pathogenesis.

The service includes an advanced biocuration pipeline that reduces synthesis providers’ burden to maintain effective biosecurity. The platform does this by streamlining the review process through an industry-oriented user interface to review screening results, which displays high-quality metadata and a graphical representation of genomic context.
ThreatSEQ was recently named a finalist for the prestigious R&D 100 Awards which honors the 100 most innovative technologies of the year. Winners were announced at a ceremony Nov.16 in Orlando, Florida.

The Battelle team, led by Dr. Omar P. Tabbaa, Director of Computational Biotechnology, connected the challenges associated with enabling the responsible development of biotechnology and Battelle’s unique position to provide an economically and technically sound solution.

“This award would not have been possible without the collaborative support of international industry and government stakeholders. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts towards providing sustainable biosecurity solutions,” Tabbaa said.

“We’re delighted that this important technology has been recognized by the R&D community,” said Dr. Michael Kuhlman, Battelle’s Chief Scientist. “Our ThreatSEQ service provides faster, more accurate decision-making for gene synthesis firms to protect themselves, their clients, and society from potential biological threats.”

In addition to the Battelle award, Department of Energy laboratories where Battelle has a management role won 12 awards this year, bringing the total number of awards won by the enterprise to 393.

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