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Singapore's AITBiotech to Market Assay for Detecting all Strains of H5N1 Virus

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – AITbiotech recently signed a licensing deal to market in the Singapore region an H5N1 bird flu test kit capable of detecting all strains of the virus.

The test was developed by researchers at Singapore's Experimental Therapeutics Centre and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and according to the partners, it enables the detection of all existing strains of the H5N1 virus in a single test with almost 100 percent accuracy, a capability not possible with the current gold standard for H5N1 detection — which detects three out of 10 distinct genetic groups — recommended by the World Health Organization.

"The new H5N1 test kit … is a significant addition to AITbiotech's existing portfolio of products for influenza virus screening and surveillance," Alex Thian, founder and CEO of AITbiotech, said in a statement. "In light of the recent H5N1 outbreak in this region, we believe that this test can play a vital role for governments and public health institutions to effectively fight and control the outspread of any H5N1 virus."

The test, also known as the H5N1 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assay, was developed by Timothy Barkham, a senior consultant of laboratory medicine at TTSH, and Masafumi Inoue, a senior research scientist and project director of technology development from ETC, which was created by Singapore's Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR) as a center of excellence to advance drug development in the country. The test has been clinically validated at several hospitals in Southeast Asia.

AITbiotech obtained the license for the H5N1 assay from Exploit Technologies, A*STAR's technology transfer arm. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Additionally, the Singapore molecular diagnostics products and genomics services firm is licensing molecular diagnostic technologies from Exploit Technologies for swine flu mutation surveillance and for the detection of pathogens such as dengue, Chikungunya, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The deals with A*STAR provide AITbiotech "a springboard into the highly competitive molecular diagnostics market," Thian said. "With our expanded capabilities, we are now able to provide a comprehensive suite of diagnostics services for a range of infectious diseases to the research, healthcare, and biomedical industries in Singapore and Asia."