February 2, 2006
Canadian technology spits out the promise of better health
Ottawa-based DNA Genotek Inc.'s DNA collection product has been touted as one of the most innovative technologies in the world.
Each year, the World Economic Forum identifies a number of technology pioneers – companies from around the world that develop and apply the most innovative and transformational technologies in the fields of health and biotechnology, renewable energy and information technology.
The work undertaken by these companies can significantly affect the way business and society operate. Each innovation is another step in society's attempt to harness, adapt, and use technology to change and improve our world.
Of the 36 companies selected for 2006, DNA Genotek Inc. is the only one from Canada.
"The role of technology in society should be to enable positive change," says Ian Curry, President and CEO of DNA Genotek. "Our technology, the Oragene•DNA™ DNA Self-Collection Kit, allows health researchers around the world to execute their research programs more effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, that means faster discoveries that will improve health care globally."
Advances in genetic research and testing are expected to continue improving the way health conditions and diseases are diagnosed, treated and prevented, resulting in major improvements to global health care. All genetic findings start with the collection and analysis of one essential resource: DNA.
"That's where DNA Genotek comes in," explains Curry. "Oragene•DNA is revolutionizing the global genetic research community. Oragene•DNA is the easiest, most reliable and cost-effective way to collect, transport, store and process large amounts of human DNA."
With Oragene•DNA, a donor simply deposits a saliva sample into a small plastic container. Once the container is closed, the saliva is mixed with a chemical solution that stabilizes the DNA – preserving it at room temperature for years – until it is extracted and analyzed.
Traditional collection methods present substantial challenges for researchers. Blood-based DNA collection incurs costs in handling and processing, requires trained professionals to take the sample, and is invasive and painful for the donor. Another alternative – buccal swabs – frequently does not provide enough DNA for genetic research and is known to be highly unreliable.
Oragene•DNA is appealing to researchers and clinicians because it is non-invasive, dependable, and easy-to-use. DNA Genotek markets its products worldwide and has established a global customer base, with more than 1,500 labs in 58 countries currently testing and using its products.
To date, the company has focused on promoting Oragene•DNA to health researchers who are conducting large population studies to determine the underlying genetic causes of disease and health conditions (e.g. breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, autism, obesity). For statistical reasons, the success of these studies hinges on large amounts of DNA from a large number of donors. Top-tier health research institutions around the world such as Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have already adopted Oragene•DNA's user friendly technology.
Since the use of DNA for health research and clinical diagnosis is expected to increase rapidly, the company is well positioned for long-term growth. DNA Genotek attributes its success to an excellent product, customer focus and devotion, and a rapidly growing market need.