Development of molecular diagnostic assays using isothermal nucleic acid-based amplification-ON-341

Desired discipline(s): Biochemistry / Molecular biology, Life Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Natural Sciences
Company: Custom Biologics, Molecular Diagnostics Division
Project Length: 4 to 6 months
Preferred start date: As soon as possible.
Language requirement: English
Location(s): Toronto, ON, Canada; Canada
No. of positions: 1-2 PhD or PDF positions, with potential for renewal
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About the company: 

Custom Biologics is a Health Canada audited, GMP-compliant, global service provider for functional testing of biotherapeutics, biosimilars and antibody drug conjugates. For over 15 years our scientists have been designing and validating sophisticated bioanalytical assays to characterize and measure the therapeutic potential of large and small molecule biotherapeutics. Our work supports regulatory drug submission applications from biopharmaceutical companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Our molecular diagnostics division has a mandate from the Government of Canada to use our patented isothermal nucleic acid amplification platform to develop a diagnostic assay for SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen affiliated with COVID-19 infection. Our development pipeline includes other infections pathogens including HCV, HIV, Zika, as well as food-borne and environmental pathogens.

Please describe the project.: 

The project will focus on isothermal nucleic acid-based amplification experiments to support the development of molecular diagnostic assays. Candidates engaged in Summer 2020 will be prioritized to work on assays for COVID-19, however development projects may shift later in 2020 to include additional pathogens.

The development of molecular diagnostic assays will be based on a made-in-Canada, patent-protected isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology (INAAT) called DNA Amplification via Scissor-like Structures (or DASL). This innovative technology is simpler, more sensitive, faster, and more cost effective for detecting infectious pathogens than current traditional quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), immunoassay or microbiological methods. Compared to other INAAT detection methods, DASL requires only minor sample preparation procedures. It is capable of detecting infectious pathogens in a variety of biological fluids including saliva, blood (or dried blood spots), urine and biopsy material. DASL also eliminates the need for institutional laboratory settings and makes diagnostic testing possible through a portable point-of-care device.

The project will involve experiments to support the ongoing development of the assays for COVID-19 (or other infectious pathogens) and will provide the required scientific validation needed for regulatory approval.

Required expertise/skills: 

  • Strong troubleshooting skills and qPCR experience is highly preferred.
  • The successful candidate will be highly skilled in performing bioinformatic-based searches, sequence alignments, primer and probe design. 
  • Must have experience with nucleic acid chemistry.


Scientific excellence is the pillar of the Company. The ideal candidate will be joining a team of highly motivated individuals and a workplace culture driven by collaboration, achievement, quality and growth.  The successful candidate is highly motivated, results driven, possesses a strong ‘can-do’ personality, excellent laboratory and critical thinking skills, and works well within a team to deliver excellence to our clients.