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Dec7RainDance Technologies and Blood Systems Research Institute Collaborate to Develop Ultra-sensitive Assays to Detect and Quantify HIV Latency

Collaboration provides new amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research with access to RainDance’s unified Next-Generation Sequencing and Digital PCR platform 


Billerica, Mass. — December 7, 2015 — RainDance Technologies, Inc., a genomics tools company dedicated to simplifying the analysis of complex genetic diseases, and Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) today announced a research collaboration to develop blood-based assays and protocols for the precise measurement of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) latent reservoir using RainDance’s RainDrop® Digital PCR and ThunderBolts™ Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Enrichment Systems. As part of this collaboration, BSRI will provide access to the RainDance products to key thought leaders at the new amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research, an innovative collaborative enterprise focused on developing and validating new approaches that can ultimately lead to a functional cure for HIV.


The amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research brings together a team of HIV experts from BSRI, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the Gladstone Institutes and other partners. This San Francisco-based team was the sole winner of amfAR’s invitation-only $20 million grant funding competition. The Institute is the cornerstone of amfAR’s $100 million cure research investment strategy and is focused on developing the scientific basis of a cure for HIV by the end of 2020. The BSRI team is led by Satish Pillai, Ph.D., Associate Investigator at BSRI and Associate Director of UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and Michael P. Busch, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research and Director at BSRI and Professor of Laboratory Medicine at UCSF.


HIV latency represents one of the most challenging aspects of diagnosing and treating HIV today, with HIV-infected patients experiencing recurrence of viremia years after reduction or elimination of measureable circulating viral load. Current Viral Outgrowth Assays (VOA), various PCR-based approaches and NGS tests to detect or measure latent provirus in infected host cells or low-level replicating HIV virus in plasma or cells are limited due to inaccuracies in quantification of few target molecules in a high background, PCR inhibition, under and over estimations based on targets not measuring replication competence, and disparity between ‘home-brew’ tests in individual labs.


Built on RainDance’s unified picodroplet platform, the RainDrop and ThunderBolts Systems generate millions of individual droplet-based tests per sample, providing the dynamic range and quantitation essential for massively-parallel yet precise single molecule analysis. The collaboration between RainDance and BSRI aims to develop ultra-sensitive, highly precise and low cost NGS and digital PCR methods to detect, measure and monitor replication competent latent HIV with absolute quantitation from limited amounts of bio-available fluids.


“Identifying and quantifying the latent HIV reservoir is a critical area of HIV research today, and has been challenging due to limitations in currently available detection and quantitation methods,” said Dr. Michael Busch. “The collaboration with RainDance will enable us to look closer as we work together with the many HIV experts at the amfAR Institute to develop the next-generation of assays for HIV viral latency applications.”


“RainDance is leading a transformation in HIV and other chronic infectious disease research by providing ultra-sensitive tools capable of early detection and accurate quantitation of virus recurrence,” said Roopom Banerjee, President and CEO of RainDance Technologies. “BSRI is one of the most respected institutions for research and clinical practice in HIV, and our collaboration with them and the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research reflects our commitment to working with industry thought leaders to address complex diseases in large-scale populations.”


About RainDance Technologies


RainDance Technologies is making complex genetics simple. The company’s ultra-sensitive genomic tools enable research of novel non-invasive liquid biopsy applications that should result in more accurate, reliable, cost-effective, and early detection of cancer and other inherited and infectious diseases. Major research institutions and laboratories around the world rely on the performance of RainDance systems. Based outside Boston, Massachusetts, the company supports customers using RainDrop® Digital PCR, as well as the ThunderStorm® and ThunderBolts™ Next-Generation Sequencing Enrichment Systems through its international sales and service operations, as well as a global network of distributors and commercial service providers. Both technology platforms have been recognized by The Scientist as Top 10 Innovations with the RainDrop System winning the award in 2014 and the ThunderStorm System winning the award in 2011.


About Blood Systems Research Institute


Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI), San Francisco, is a non-profit organization and the research division of Blood Systems, the second largest blood banking organization in the United States. Established in 1959, BSRI is the leading program in the U.S., and perhaps the world, with respect to transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases, and is at the forefront of several other areas of transfusion medicine research. More than 70 scientists, investigators and staff support a diverse research portfolio encompassing immunology, virology, cellular therapeutics, epidemiology and health policy. BSRI is one of only four significant blood bank-sponsored research programs in the United States. For more information, visit www.bsrisf.org.