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xTechSearch small business makes accurate, on-site infection detection a Soldier-saving possibility

Published: 03/07/2022
Peggy Sammon

By the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON – The first step in efficient medical treatment is a correct diagnosis, and Peggy Sammon, CEO and Co-founder of GeneCapture, is developing a cost-effective technology with the ability to diagnose infections quickly and accurately. Specifically, the technology enables a medic to identify, on-site, a specific pathogen and get the proper treatment at the right time, all for under $20 per test. For the Army, this could mean saving a Soldier’s life.

In 2010, Sammon was an entrepreneur with a business background, offering insights on business planning and financial strategies to scientists hoping to commercialize their solutions. When presented with a patent describing a new technology for infection detection, Sammon realized how impactful this idea could be to human health. She partnered with scientist Dr. Krishnan Chittur to co-found GeneCapture, headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, with the patented “CAPTURE™” technology, which stands for “Confirm Active Pathogens Through Underlying RNA Expression.”

“GeneCapture is developing a method to identify pathogens –germs that cause disease – from a human sample without a laboratory. It’s a portable, rapid diagnosis,” said Sammon.

Following many years of scientific discovery and product development, GeneCapture leaped into the Army space via xTechSearch 4 when it was named a finalist in 2020. xTechSearch is a competition sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), targeting small businesses to uncover novel dual-use science and technology solutions to tackle the Army’s most critical modernization challenges.  Finalists receive awards that help fund research and development efforts.

“We are still developing this technology, and we need to have it fully developed, engineered, and cleared by the FDA before the Army can use it,” said Sammon.

As the recipient of over $140K in prize money from the xTech program, Sammon and her team are using this funding, plus $3.1M in Small Business Innovation Research contracts from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Chem Bio Defense Agency and Defense Health Agency to do just that.

“Having the contract flow from the military and the Department of Defense has really validated us, and it has shown investors that we have some real traction behind us,” said Sammon.

GeneCapture also recognizes the dual-use nature of their product.  There is a big market for rapid infection detection on the commercial side, with one particular infection being of critical importance – COVID-19. Similar to the product Sammon and her team are developing for the Army, their rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19, whether for commercial or military use, is in development, but must also be FDA-cleared before it can be used.

While the FDA approval process takes time, Sammon believes that the company may receive clearance for their first CAPTURE product line in the next 18 months, and will, shortly thereafter, be able to introduce their product into military and commercial markets.

“It is so important to understand what the market is going to want a few years out, because by the time you get your product developed and cleared by the FDA, it may be a changed landscape.” said Sammon. “A very strong market need is critical.”

With validation from the xTech Program, and their product’s dual-use functionality, GeneCapture has hit the mark on market need and is eager to introduce customers to real-time infection detection at a fraction of the cost of traditional laboratory testing.

For more information on Sammon and GeneCapture, visit their website at www.genecapture.com.

Peggy Sammon

xTechSearch small business makes accurate, on-site infection detection a Soldier-saving possibility

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