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Ireland's HiberGene Licenses Commercialization Rights to Meningitis MDx Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has licensed to startup HiberGene Diagnostics the exclusive commercialization rights to its molecular diagnostics test for meningitis, University College Dublin announced this week.

HiberGene is a spinout of UCD and is based in Dublin.

The test is based on loop-mediated isothermal amplification technology and provides results in less than one hour, compared to the 24 hours required with standard laboratory tests, UCD said. The technology could potentially allow patients to be diagnosed in emergency departments without needing to send samples to hospital laboratories, the university added.

A rapid, sensitive, and specific test is needed because early diagnosis of meningitis can be challenging due to its ambiguous, flu-like symptoms. According to Brendan Farrell, CEO of HiberGene, clinical validation has demonstrated 100 percent sensitivity and 99.7 percent specificity for the test, which was developed by researchers at Royal Victoria Hospital laboratories in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

HiberGene plans to commercialize the test during the first half of 2012 and is in discussions with potential distributors in the US and Europe. The test is also being evaluated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Terms of the deal with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust were not disclosed.

In addition to the meningitis test, HiberGene is working "on a series of additional molecular assays to rapidly detect pathogenic microorganisms," UCD said.