Smiths Detection today announces the award of a $2.2m, two-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop a test for multiple types of influenza.
The test will run on Smiths Detection’s Clinical Bio-Seeq instrument, designed to be used at Point of Care.
Global concern over the potentially devastating effects of a flu pandemic has grown due initially to an outbreak of H5N1 avian flu that crossed the species barrier to humans causing several deaths. More recently the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic has infected more than 200,000 people of whom over 2,000 have died, according to a recent World Health Organization update.
These are just two forms of a highly diverse infection which is also present as ‘normal’ seasonal flu. While most currently available tests, particularly those that are suitable for use outside the laboratory, focus on an individual flu variant such as H1N1 or H5N1, Smiths Detection will develop a single rapid test to detect multiple flu variants. This will be achieved by using our LATE PCR nucleic acid amplification and detection technology to detect and analyze multiple targets simultaneously. This technology was licensed from Brandeis University which will support the NIH project.
The test developed under this programme will be designed to diagnose disease in humans and will be suitable for use in a conventional laboratory setting or in a Point of Care setting running on the Company’s own clinical Bio-Seeq instrument.
A similar test, developed by Smiths Detection outside the NIH grant programme, will also be made available for diagnosing influenza infections in animals, including potential pandemic strains. The animal test will run on both desk top and field portable versions of the Bio-Seeq. Development of the field portable version is complete and the desk top clinical diagnostic version will shortly enter clinical trials.
When using Bio-Seeq, the sample is introduced into a disposable cartridge which is then placed on the instrument. No manual sample preparation steps are needed and the cartridge can process a variety of solid and liquid samples.
Bill Mawer, head of Smiths Detection’s Diagnostics business, said: “The pandemic influenza application makes excellent use of the full range of our diagnostic technologies, combining the need for a sophisticated highly multiplexed test with the need for rapid results at the Point of Care. The award of this grant is a tremendous step forward for our new diagnostics venture.”