An AR Exclusive: AMERICAN FIRM CREATES FIRST RAPID TEST FOR SARS
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
LOS ANGELES -- The first quick and reliable test to detect the deadly SARS virus in humans is in the hands of the U.S. Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (U.S.AMRIID) and has been shipped to the World Health Organization, the American Reporter has learned. The test was developed by a privately-held life sciences firm, EraGen Biosciences, of Madison, Wisc.
"The test is now in the hands of U.S.AMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases) and is being shipped to WHO Central Public Health Laboratory (UK) and the British Columbia Center of Disease Control," the company said Wednesday.
"With the recent sequencing of the SARS genome, EraGen went to work immediately to develop a rapid test to detect SARS. The goal was to use our proven AEGIS technology to develop an assay to give healthcare professionals a quick means for determining SARS viral load," reported Irene Hrusovsky, EraGen's CEO.
The race to create a test for SARS has been a critical component in the global fight against the disease. With 5,667 cases identified so far and a death rate hovering between six and 10 percent, scientists and epidemiologists in 25 countries have struggled with the fact that until now, there has been no way to determine who is sick with SARS until the disease has progressed, nor any way to determine if it has reappeared. Hiong King on Thursday, May 1, announced that it had hospitalized and quarantined 12 patients who had been out of the hospital for up to two weeks with no symptoms until the past day or so.
"Our patented AEGIS technology used in this assay is able to detect and differentiate pathogens in less than 60 minutes. Because our tests analyze the basic genetic structure of pathogens, they are considerably more accurate in the early detection of the disease than tests which examine the body's immunological response."
EraGen is a privately-held company that has invested heavily in DNa-related diagnostic and other medical tools. According to its Website, the company licenses its bioinformatics, drug screening platforms, nucleic acid and genotyping technologies for clinical diagnostic and life science research applications.
The company, which also has offices in Florida, is focused on developing proprietary means for discovering new drugs and diagnostics. Currently, its proprietary products include the high throughput assay called GENE-CODE, a molecular recognition system and a bioinformatics platform that employs comprehensive gene family databases to help discover new therapeutic drugs and diagnostic tools.
EraGen's partners include Genome Therapeutics Corporation, Bayer Diagnostics and the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute. It has also recently licensed patented drug-discovery applications to Therascope AG of Germany.
Note: EraGen Biosciences, Ltd. should not be confused with a disbanded manufacturer of ergonomic seating, Eragen, Inc.)