Focus Diagnostics - First U.S. Laboratory to License Newly Discovered Coronavirus CoV-NL63 From Primagen

13-Sep-2005

Focus Diagnostics, Inc. announced a license agreement with Primagen Holding, B.V., to develop PCR detection for human coronavirus NL63, a newly identified virus related to SARS and other coronaviruses. The new coronavirus causes severe respiratory disease in children under 5 and is associated with respiratory disease in adults and the elderly. The agreement will allow Focus Diagnostics' infectious disease reference laboratory in Cypress, CA, to be the first U.S laboratory to bring to market a test for this new infectious agent. Focus was the first laboratory in the U.S. to offer PCR testing for SARS coronavirus in 2002 and for human metapneumovirus (hMPV) in 2003, both newly discovered respiratory viruses that previously had no diagnostic test available for physicians.

Focus Diagnostics' reference laboratory currently offers the most extensive menu of molecular diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, and expects to make an announcement later this year regarding the availability of a coronavirus CoV-NL63 assay. Charles C. Harwood, Jr., CEO of Focus Diagnostics, comments, "Our charter is to develop new diagnostic tests that help physicians make a diagnosis that leads to better patient management." Dr. Lia van der Hoek and her colleagues at the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam first described the newly identified coronavirus, related to SARS and other viruses that cause common colds and animal diseases, in 2004. Several subsequent reports by the group in Amsterdam and others have indicated that the virus is a significant cause of human disease. Earlier this year Dr. Jeffrey Kahn and colleagues from Yale University indicated a possible association of this virus with Kawasaki disease, the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children which has never before been shown to have a possible infectious cause. Several laboratories are now in the process of assessing this possible association.

The virus is the subject of a patent application filed by the original discoverers. As part of the intensive collaboration in the field of virus discovery the rights to the patent have been assigned to the Netherlands-based company Primagen Holding B.V.

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