MIPS 25th Anniversary Profile: 20/20 GeneSystems–Powder Screening Test Kit for First Responders

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, each weekday we will briefly profile one of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland. These profiles will be collected in a commemorative book, released at the celebration on November 7.

Project Manager:  Liz Marcus;  Principal InvestigatorNorman Hansen, UMD
Location:  Rockville, Maryland – Montgomery County;  Project Start Date:  8/2/2004

Business Description
20/20 GeneSystems (‘20/20’) was founded in May, 2000, to develop and promote an innovative proteomics product line that provides drug companies, biodefense specialists and life scientists with new tools for protein analysis. The company’s headquarters are in the heart of the biotechnology corridor in Rockville, Md., in close proximity to the National Institutes of Health with which the company has extensive collaborations.

Challenge
20/20 was developing the BioCheck® Suspicious Powder Screening Kit, which provides a cost-effective, reliable screening tool to quickly and easily determine whether a powder contains biological material in order to rule out many of the substances that cause powder incidents (e.g. talcum powder, dry wall dust, powdered sugar, etc.). The company needed researchers to improve, optimize, and test the effectiveness of the product.

MIPS Role
Hansen had a deep background in relevant biochemistry and had previously invented chemical agents to kill anthrax spores, so he was quite expert in the environment in which the test kits would be employed. He made specific recommendations on improvements to and the optimization of BioCheck®, and ran many tests demonstrating its efficacy compared to generic protein tests.

Results
20/20 GeneSystems has formed a separate division, 20/20 BioResponse, to produce, market and sell BioCheck®.  In 2010, Smiths Detection began distributing the product worldwide.

MIPS-Related Quote
“Dr. Hansen and MIPS were essential to the success of this product, which has become an international gold standard for suspicious powder screening.  Over the past seven years, thousands of government and commercial places of businesses have been able to safely and promptly resume operations following suspicious powder incidents through the use of this product by first responders. BioCheck® has likely saved hundreds of millions of dollars in economic waste while creating many new jobs in Maryland.”

– Jonathan Cohen, President and CEO,
20/20 BioResponse

Download the 20/20 GeneSystems spread from the upcoming book, “MIPS 25th Anniversary Commemorative Collection: Creating Partners in Innovation,” to released at the MIPS 25th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 7.

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