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 Incubation programme.
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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