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Life Tech, SATuRN Collaborate on Dx for Antiretroviral Resistance in HIV in Africa

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Life Technologies today announced a collaboration with the Southern African Treatment and Resistance Network (SATuRN) covering sequencing-based diagnostics for HIV patients in Africa.

The partners have developed a sample-to-answer solution for antiretroviral (ARV) drug resistance to HIV therapies based on Life Tech's Applied Biosystems' line of Sanger sequencers, which are broadly installed in African hospitals and HIV testing centers. The tests developed by Life Tech and SATuRN are being made available to African partners at "a highly economic cost per test."

While ARV drugs are increasingly available in the developing world, resistance to these therapies develops in many HIV-infected individuals. By sequencing two viral genes, resistance can be monitored, but the cost of the technology makes routine use prohibitive in most parts of Africa, Life Tech said.

The methods developed by Life Tech and SATuRN "have the potential to become the most accurate and cost-effective method" for diagnosing resistance pathogens in Africa as the price of DNA/RNA genotyping continues to fall. Also, software applications to be used and which will be further developed are open source and available in Africa.

"We have trained 1,315 physicians and medical personnel on the interpretation of HIV drug resistance in southern Africa," Tulio de Oliveira, director of SATuRN and senior researcher at Wellcome Trust-Africa Centre, said in a statement. "The region has more than 2 million patients on ARV treatment, and we believe that now is the time for the use of genotyping technology to fight the battle against drug resistance.

"This partnership with Life will allow more laboratories to use genotyping techniques and large surveys on drug resistance to be produced to inform national department of health and policy makers in the region," he said.

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