David Saul acquired a PhD in Molecular Genetics in 1984 from Sheffield University, UK.
Escaping Margaret Thatcher and the English weather, he moved to New Zealand. For twenty one years, he worked as a researcher and academic at the University of Auckland. His areas of research centred on extremophilic microorganisms and their biotechnological applications. With trips to Antarctica and geothermal regions around the world, his group amassed a large collection of thermophiles and psychrophiles that provided novel enzyme activities.
In the early 2000’s he was seduced by the dark side and co-founded a biotech company which today is ZyGEM NZ Ltd where he is CSO and Director. ZyGEM is part of a larger international company under the parent MicroGEM International PLC. It has a sister company specialising in microfluidics and forensics in the USA, and a third company in Guillin, China that oversees manufacturing.
ZyGEM market a rapid, no-moving-parts DNA-extraction device and in collaboration with a research team at Otago University, is in the production stage of a portable version. The same team have commenced development of a portable, integrated extraction / qPCR machine which will be launched 2018.
David will be presenting:
"Towards a portable, integrated extraction-qPCR device."
For the last ten years, ZyGEM NZ has manufactured and marketed a nucleic extraction chemistry that uses cocktails of thermophilic and mesophilic enzymes. With a programmed temperature regime, it is possible to bring in different activities at different times during the extraction process. The primary enzyme is a thermophilic proteinase that lyses cells, digests nucleases and removes nucleoproteins. Key to its success is its careful selection to function in mild buffers compatible with PCR. Furthermore, its 75°C optimal activity means it achieves far higher specific activity than Proteinase K without needing detergents which inhibit the PCR. The result is a PCR-ready extract from most sample types that can be used directly. No purification steps mean less contamination, less time and greater yields.
Taking the next step we married our thermally controlled chemistry with thermally responsive polymers and have developed a no-moving-parts DNA extraction device. The bench top version, PDQeX, is already on sale and a portable, battery powered version will be released in April.
More recently we have embarked on a collaboration with Dr Jo-Anne Stanton’s group at Otago University to link this technology with qPCR. Again, this device will be battery powered and because it has no moving parts, will be simple, robust and ideally suited for point-of-care / point-of-use.