PrimerDesign develops world's first test kit for Tamiflu-resistant swine flu

11 September 2009

PrimerDesign, the Southampton-based specialists in gene detection and real time PCR gene quantification, has launched the world's first test kit for detecting a new drug-resistant strain of the swine flu virus. The mutated virus has been identified in isolated cases Europe,  Asia and North America.

With the widespread use of the Tamiflu drug as a treatment for the disease, it is expected that such strains will spread and become common. The new kit will help health organisations and governments track the spread of the mutated virus, enabling them to develop effective strategies for tackling it.

The kit provides results within 2 hours compared to the usual three days. A first test confirms if a patient sample is positive or negative for swine flu. The second test determines if the swine flu is a mutant, Tamiflu-resistant strain.

Dr Rob Powell from PrimerDesign said, "We have already seen this worst case scenario emerge with ordinary circulating flu. Standard human flu strains are now almost completely resistant to Tamiflu, rendering the drug ineffective."

PrimerDesign Director Dr Jim Wicks commented, "The kit is a crucial weapon in containing the spread of the mutant swine flu. Speed of identification is a crucial factor in minimising the impact of the virus."

PrimerDesign produces genetic detection kits for numerous other viruses and conditions. The company drew worldwide attention earlier in the year by developing the world's first DNA test kit for Mexican Swine Flu.

Primer Design is part of Southampton University's SETsquared Business Incubation programme, which provides intensive business support to high-tech start-up companies. One of four centres in Southern England, the programme uses in-house expertise and a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, investment advisors, professional services firms and academics to provide the breadth and depth of support that emerging technology companies of the future require.

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