QIAGEN (Nasdaq: QGEN; Frankfurt, Prime Standard: QIA) has been selected to contribute to the fight against infectious diseases in animals in emerging countries by supplying an international pilot project associated with the United Nations with portable devices to perform ultra-fast molecular testing in the field.
The QIAGEN instruments, called ESE-Quant Tube Scanners, weigh just two pounds and are about the size of a desktop telephone. In conjunction with assays developed at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division, an effort of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), these QIAGEN point-of-need detection systems can analyze DNA or RNA from viruses or bacteria even in remote settings, which eliminates the need for time-consuming sample shipments to central laboratories for testing. Getting immediate results will enable rapid reaction to contain outbreaks at the source.
QIAGEN will initially supply up to 50 of these instruments to national health authorities in 35 emerging countries in Africa, Asia and South America. The three-year pilot project will evaluate a testing system for detecting Avian Flu (H5N1) in poultry, Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in sheep and goats, and Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (CBPP), also known as lung plague, in cattle. These livestock diseases cause serious economic damage and threaten the food supplies of millions of people.
QIAGEN began supplying the detection platforms in the second half of November 2010 as part of the commercial agreement. Depending on outcomes, the initiative allows for future expansion of the veterinary diagnostic portfolio to a total of 10 livestock diseases. Subsequent implementation in other geographic regions would then be possible.
QIAGEN is expanding its technology leadership by developing novel point-of-need platforms for healthcare and applied testing (veterinary, food, environmental and biodefense). This device is an application of technologies from the January 2010 acquisition of ESE GmbH, which has pioneered the development and manufacturing of portable devices for molecular testing. These types of technologies are expected to play an increasingly important role in human healthcare, as growing use of molecular diagnostics is creating a need for rapid turnaround and portable solutions in emergency rooms, critical care, hospitals and field settings.
"As the global leader in sample and assay technologies, QIAGEN is on the forefront of applying advanced portable devices for gene-based testing. Particularly in less developed countries, point-of-need testing can play a crucial role since these devices can be adapted to local healthcare and agricultural needs, allowing the benefits of modern technology to contribute to improving social and economic conditions. Initiatives such as the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme in veterinary diseases and QIAGEN's previously launched careHPV initiative to fight cervical cancer among women in developing countries have great potential for saving lives and expanding access," said Dr. Konrad Faulstich, Director of Strategic Alliances at QIAGEN. "The scanner system we are supplying in the FAO/IAEA initiative advances our strategy to expand QIAGEN's leadership in point-of-need systems. We are very pleased that our applied testing technologies are assisting the international drive against infectious diseases in livestock."
"We see molecular veterinary diagnostics as increasingly important to early detection of highly contagious diseases in animals," said Dr. Hermann Unger, project manager for the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme in Vienna. "To implement an effective containment strategy, we must have affordable, portable, quality assured and easy to use testing procedures. By enhancing our ability to obtain information about possible outbreaks, we hope to enable Member States to rapidly implement control measures. We appreciate QIAGEN's cooperation, technological expertise and logistical competence in developing this high-performance platform to our specific needs as part of the effort to contain these devastating animal diseases."
The spread of so-called transboundary animal diseases causes widespread hardship, especially in the developing world. Avian Flu (H5N1) outbreaks, for example, have led to threats of human infection in addition to the destruction of millions of domestic fowl in Asia, Africa and Europe. In 1995, an epidemic of CBPP in Botswana caused economic damage of $500 million. Around the world, more than one billion sheep and goats, or approximately 60% of all small ruminants, are currently at risk of PPR. The FAO/IAEA initiative aims to use advanced QIAGEN technologies to help rapidly quell these types of outbreaks.
QIAGEN's innovative ESE-Quant Tube Scanner can be deployed in almost any setting. Activated with a single button, the easy-to-use test is based on isothermal nucleic acid amplification, which allows DNA or RNA from viruses in sample materials to be multiplied and visualized without need for laboratory conditions. The instrument continuously takes extremely sensitive measurements, while also providing quality control of the results. The portable devices can process up to eight samples simultaneously within approximately 30 minutes, and results can be forwarded directly to a personal computer or notebook.