SOUTH EASTON, Mass., Oct. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB: PBIO) ("PBI" and the "Company"), a leader in the development and sale of broadly enabling, pressure cycling technology ("PCT")-based sample preparation solutions to the worldwide life sciences industry, today announced a collaborative research and development agreement with Florida International University ("FIU"). The major goal of the agreement is to develop a rape kit test method based on PBI's PCT Platform, and to have it commercially available within the next 18 months. With a current estimated backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the U.S., plus an estimated 180,000 new sexual assault cases annually, there is a significant and immediate need for better test methods to address this national issue. Scientists at PBI and FIU believe that a test method focused on the key intrinsic advantages of PCT can result in an improved rape kit test method with great potential to help reduce this backlog.
The collection of biological samples on cotton swabs for forensic analysis has been standard practice for many years. Unfortunately, the recovery of high quality DNA from these swabs is very difficult, as the biological sample is often trapped in the swab's cotton fibers, resulting in a loss of precious evidence. This is a particular problem with rape kits in which the male suspect's DNA must be isolated from a complex mixture of male and female cells. Many attempts have been made to develop new methods to improve the efficiency and quality of recovery of this evidence, which currently requires an extensive isolation procedure. A recent publication by Drs. McCord and Nori of FIU discussed a novel, PCT-based technique that showed decreased processing times and higher yields while using inexpensive reagents on a semi-automated platform.
Dr. Bruce McCord, Associate Director of FIU's International Forensic Research Institute ("IFRI"), said: "We are excited by this opportunity to expand the range of applications of PCT in forensic analysis, specifically to assist in the development of a rapid and direct alternative to current methods for the analysis of rape kits. In this project, we will further improve and validate this new PCT-based method. We believe this method will be able to isolate male and female DNA, even in situations where trace amounts of male DNA remain. We also believe that this PCT-based method could be significantly faster and provide improved sample recovery when compared to current methods. These advantages should be well received by the forensic community."
The enormous backlog of untested rape kits has been the focus of many media stories over the past several years. Consequently, the rape kit testing policies of many cities and states have recently come under review. Listed below is a sampling of several such stories that were published in 2015.
- The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance recently announced nearly $80 million in grants to law enforcement agencies across the country to test rape kits, prosecute cases, and support victims of sexual assault.
- USA Today ran a front page story entitled "Rape Kit Policies Under Review".
- U.S. Senator Ron Johnson sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Karol Mason asking for an explanation on why a national protocol for testing rape kits has not been established by the DOJ.
- In Houston, testing of 6,600 backlogged rape kits resulted in 850 hits (nearly 13%).
- In Detroit, testing of 10,000 backlogged rape kits resulted in 2,478 hits (nearly 25%).
- In Ohio, testing of 8,115 backlogged rape kits resulted in 3,030 hits (nearly 40%).
- Vice President Biden announced $41 million to help reduce the backlog of untested rape kits that White House officials estimate at 400,000 nationwide.
Dr. Nate Lawrence, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for PBI, commented: "Something significant must be done to address the enormous number of untested rape kits in the U.S. Each rape kit that sits untested on a shelf represents an injustice to the victim of the sexual assault, as well as the potential that the perpetrator of the crime will remain at-large. With a backlog of approximately 400,000 kits, and with roughly 180,000 new sexual assaults each year, it is clear that there is a need for faster, more efficient testing methods. This is a major reason we are so excited and proud to collaborate on the development of such a new method with Dr. McCord and his team at FIU."
Mr. Richard T. Schumacher, President and CEO of PBI, said: "The progress that Dr. McCord and his team have recently made is very impressive: we believe they are now very close to the development of a "next generation" PCT-based rape kit. Because of this progress, and because their future success requires immediate financial and scientific support, FIU and PBI have agreed to enter into a 16-month collaboration. During this time, PBI will offer FIU scientific and engineering support, to help optimize and streamline the method. PBI will also grant $70,000 to FIU over the term of the collaboration to help cover the costs of personnel and lab supplies."
Mr. Schumacher concluded: "We are excited to be working with our colleagues at FIU in the development of a "next generation" PCT-based rape kit test method. We believe this new method offers an important potential breakthrough in the recovery of high quality DNA from cotton swabs. We further believe that combining the capabilities, knowledge, and our shared interest in an effective outcome, we can more effectively move this innovative method down the path to successful commercialization."
About the Touch DNA and Rape Kit Testing Market
Future commercialization of this novel, PCT-based method could potentially provide significant new business channels for PBI in important forensic applications, such as touch DNA and rape kit testing. PBI estimates a forensics market that consists of hundreds of labs in the U.S. performing thousands of tests on a routine basis. Thus, in addition to instrument sales, we also envision the potential for single-use consumables and other reagents that are proprietary to the Company's PCT platform.
About Florida International University
Florida International University ("FIU") is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. It is a public research university with colleges and schools that offer more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida's anchor institutions, FIU contributes $8.9 billion each year to the local economy. FIU is Worlds Ahead in finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission. FIU has awarded over 200,000 degrees and enrolls more than 54,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell, FIU@I-75, and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. FIU also supports artistic and cultural engagement through its three museums: the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, the Wolfsonian-FIU, and the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. FIU is a member of Conference USA and has over 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu.
About the International Forensic Research Institute
The International Forensic Research Institute ("IFRI") serves local and national law enforcement efforts in the application of scientific principles to the administration of justice. The mission of this self-supporting institute is to conduct original research in forensic science, transfer technologies from other scientific disciplines for use in forensic applications, provide scientific expertise to the law enforcement and legal community and to provide needed continuing education and advanced training to practicing scientists. IFRI provides undergraduate, master, and doctoral level programs in forensic science.
About Pressure BioSciences, Inc.
Pressure BioSciences, Inc. ("PBI") (OTCQB: PBIO) develops, markets, and sells proprietary laboratory instrumentation and associated consumables to the estimated $6 billion life sciences sample preparation market. Our products are based on the unique properties of both constant (i.e., static) and alternating (i.e., pressure cycling technology, or PCT) hydrostatic pressure. PCT is a patented enabling technology platform that uses alternating cycles of hydrostatic pressure between ambient and ultra-high levels to safely and reproducibly control bio-molecular interactions. To date, we have installed over 250 PCT systems in approximately 160 sites worldwide. There are over 100 publications citing the advantages of the PCT platform over competitive methods, many from key opinion leaders. Our primary application development and sales efforts are in the biomarker discovery and forensics areas. Customers also use our products in other areas, such as drug discovery & design, bio-therapeutics characterization, soil & plant biology, vaccine development, histology, and forensic applications.
Forward Looking Statements
Statements contained in this press release regarding PBI's intentions, hopes, beliefs, expectations, or predictions of the future are "forward-looking'' statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the Company's current expectations, forecasts, and assumptions that are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and other factors include, but are not limited to, the risks and uncertainties discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014, and other reports filed by the Company from time to time with the SEC. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any of the information included in this release, except as otherwise required by law.
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Richard T. Schumacher, President and CEO, PBI (508) 230-1828 (T)
Ayleen Barbel Fattal, PR & Marketing Coordinator, FIU (305) 348-4492 (T)
SOURCE Pressure BioSciences, Inc.