APDN launches in-the-field detector for DNA markers

Beacon Applied DNA Sciences has officially launched its mobile detector technology for its DNA-based security markers.

The aim is to make its SigNature DNA markers easier for customers to authenticate by developing an in-the-field detector to complement its lab-based analysis services.  The new technology - called Beacon - relies on the use of an encrypted, covert fluorescent marker - associated with the botanical DNA signature - that glows red under ultraviolet light.

A dry swab - applied to the area where the DNA marker is located - can reveal whether APDN's authentication feature is present, although a definitive verdict on authentication will still require sending of the suspect sample to one of the company's testing facilities.

The marker can survive flame temperatures in excess of 1000°C, so can even be used in challenging situations such as the verification of DNA-marked copper wire.

Copper theft is a massive problem, estimated to be a $1bn business worldwide, and it is known that criminals sometimes burn the wire sheathing - which can sometimes be marked - to expose bare copper for sale.

APDN recently reported revenues for the first-quarter ended December 31 of $1.2m, a 92 per cent increase on the year-earlier period which resulted mainly from rising US government contract revenues and cotton-marking projects.

Around 41 per cent of APDN's revenues in the quarter came from government DNA-marking projects. A recent decision by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to start marking  FSC 5962 micro circuits with SigNature DNA in-house will impact these revenues in the short-term, although APDN believes the endorsement of the DNA-marking technology could bring additional opportunities.

Net losses increased to $7.8m from $6.3m, and APDN has said it is working hard to reduce its cash burn, including cutting the salaries of the senior management. Expenses are running high because of a number of pilots that are due to come to a close this year and - it hopes - could translate into future revenues.

It was also announced that APDN's chief financial officer Karol Kain Gray has stepped down from his position after 18 months in the role, but will remain a financial consultant for the company. She has been replaced by Beth Jantzen, who formerly served as the company's controller.

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