UK company produces first DNA test kit for Mexican swine flu
11 May 2009
PrimerDesign Ltd, a UK firm founded by University of Southampton
scientists, says it has won the race to produce the first DNA test kit for the
Mexican swine flu A (H1N1). The rapid test gives results in only two hours compared to current
diagnostic tests which take two days.
PrimerDesign specialises in producing high-tech DNA detection kits
that identify genetic conditions and pathogens much faster and more
accurately than traditional diagnostic techniques.
The first shipment of rapid-results test kits was sent on Saturday
directly to Mexico as well as many other territories to help authorities
monitor the increasing number of suspected cases.
Staff at the PrimerDesign laboratories
realised they were ideally positioned to create the first DNA Swine Flu
test when the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the genetic data
for the A(H1N1) flu virus at the end of April. The company's team of
genetics experts in Southampton then worked against the clock to produce
the DNA test.
Coordinator of the Swine Flu DNA project,
Dr Rob Powell said, “At PrimerDesign we’re able to produce synthetic DNA
that matches the virus exactly, without ever having to come into contact
with the flu itself.”
"Monitoring the spread of the virus is now the key weapon against a
possible pandemic. These tests will contribute to the global effort to
halt the disease," said Dr Jim Wicks from PrimerDesign.
The company is part of Southampton University's SETsquared Business
The PrimerDesign swine flu real-time PCR kit is sold primarily for
research use but could be used to diagnose the disease in laboratories
globally. The kit gives 150 tests and costs £295 for the standard kit.
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