Company develops speedy test kit for bird flu

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Applied biosystems Influenza Avian influenza Influenza pandemic

Applied Biosystems plans to release kits that can test humans and
animals for avian flu virus within two hours.

The kits are being developed in response to outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry flocks and humans in Europe.

A fast system for detecting avian influenza in poultry flocks would help food companies allay consumer fears about their products.

Current testing for avian flu takes days to complete. European countries have been sending samples to a UK lab when testing needs to be done.

Under a joint programme with Applera Corp. the company said it has developed a TaqMan Influenza A/H5 Detection Kit to detect the presence of the H5 subtype, including H5N1, in human and animal samples in less than two hours.

The kit, which is designed to run using standardized protocols on Applied Biosystems real-time PCR systems, is currently being tested and optimized for maximum sensitivity against viral samples of the H5N1 subtype in Hong Kong.

The company plans to release the kits early in 2006. The kit is part of a package of technologies from Applied Biosystems for public health officials and researchers involved in the evaluation and surveillance of H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks.

The package also includes standardised genome sequencing protocols and technology, ongoing genetic sequence information from the virus and access to a global influenza genome database.

The analysis software will also be made available through non-exclusive licenses and laboratories using Applied Biosystems's sequencing platform.

In addition Applied Biosystems said it is designing avian flu DNA sequencing protocols and kits for distribution by March 2006. The system will be distributed through the World Health Organisation network.

They will be based on Applied Biosystems' gene sequencing technology. These are viral genome sequencing systems are capable of sequencing and analyzing the entire influenza genome, including the dangerous H5N1 subtype.

"Genetic-based detection is one of the most reliable approaches for detecting the presence of harmful pathogens, including the dangerous Influenza H5N1 subtype,"​ stated Ian Barr, deputy director of the WHO's influenza collaborating centre in Australia. "We are pleased with the initiative that Applied Biosystems has demonstrated in supporting the global influenza scientific community to address this critical public health requirement and look forward to the roll-out of these new assays."

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