Rapid avian flu detection kits for sale in in Europe, Asia, and Africa

15 March 2006

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Warrington, UK. Applied Biosystems (NYSE:ABI), an Applera Corporation business, has released its TaqMan Influenza A/H5 Detection Kit for sale in in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is capable of rapidly and reliably detecting multiple strains of avian influenza in laboratory samples. This test is not currently available for sale in the United States.

The influenza kit can detect the presence of the avian influenza virus in as few as two and a half hours. In comparison, traditional cell culture testing takes from 2-10 days to confirm avian influenza infections. The Applied Biosystems kits include standardized reagents and an accompanying protocol run on real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) platforms, a technology widely used by life science researchers.

We are delivering on the European, Asian, and African public health community's call for an early warning system for avian influenza," said Lars Holmkvist, President of Applied Biosystems, Europe. "Applied Biosystems' detection kit can detect infected samples in a matter of hours, not days, thereby speeding the public health response to avian flu outbreaks."

The kits, which can detect a broad range of viral strains, have been tested for accuracy against recent samples of avian influenza in collaboration with the following laboratories: Robert Koch Institute, Germany; Avian Influenza Reference Veterinary Lab, Italy; National Public Health Institute, Finland; Ministry of Agriculture, Turkey.

"Due to the geographical variability and frequent mutation of the avian influenza virus, detection technologies need to be tested against as many samples from as many different regions as possible," stated Dr. Brunhilde Schweiger of the National Reference Center for Influenza at the Robert Koch Institute in Germany. "Based on tests performed in our lab for detection of the H5 virus and differentiation from other influenza viruses, we are confident that Applied Biosystems' assays can quickly detect currently circulating strains of the virus with a high degree of reliability."

The kits, which are manufactured in Warrington, England, are commercially available in Europe, Asia and Africa and have already been shipped to public health departments and veterinary laboratories in many European countries, including Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, as well as several countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Applied Biosystems currently has an installed base of over 1,400 real-time PCR platforms in public health laboratories across Europe, Asia, and Africa capable of running the avian influenza TaqMan assay. Today's announcement is part of a broader Applied Biosystems international initiative to ensure that detection kits and up-to-date genomic data are available for priority epidemiology studies related to infectious disease threats.

To ensure availability of the kits in the event of an outbreak, Applied Biosystems intends to stockpile materials in the United Kingdom and Japan to enable a more rapid response to kit production and distribution.

Restrictions on use

Applied Biosystems' influenza detection products are for research and epidemiological use only in countries outside of the United States. They have not been cleared or approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or any other regulatory agency, or under the European IVD Directive, for human diagnostic or other clinical use, and are not intended and should not be used for human diagnostic or any other clinical purposes. TaqMan(R) Influenza A/H5 Detection Kits and Applied Biosystems' other influenza detection kits are not for sale in the United States.

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