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Lab21 Deal Targets Killer Fungus

Lab21 in Cambridge is partnering a world-leading diagnostics company to find a fast detector for a fungus that can kill patients whose immune system is compromised.

The identity of the partner is not being disclosed and financial details of the agreement are also being kept secret.

The partners are fighting Aspergillus. Infection caused by Aspergillus is a leading cause of death in immunocompromised patients, with an estimated 10 million people at risk globally each year.

Studies have shown that diagnosis of Aspergillus infection followed by antifungal treatment within the first 10 days of infection reduces mortality from 90 per cent to 40 per cent – highlighting the need for rapid, accurate testing.

Real-time polymerase chain assays using Lab21 technology have been shown to provide significant advantages in sensitivity and specificity over the current culture techniques.

Lab21 and its global partner now plan to develop, manufacture and distribute a diagnostic assay for the detection of Aspergillus species for the partner’s real time PCR platform.

Lab21 will use its molecular diagnostic development resource and proprietary intellectual property in the fungal diagnostic area to develop and manufacture the new Aspergillus test as OEM reagents for the partner platform. CEO Graham Mullis said: “The MycAssay™ Aspergillus test provides rapid, accurate clinical information that allows health professionals to make life-saving treatment decisions quickly. This agreement follows closely behind the similar deal made with BD last year.”

CSO Berwyn Clarke added: “The platform we will be using for the new assay is one which is becoming increasingly well adopted within clinical diagnostic laboratories worldwide.

“Independent clinical validation studies have already shown that both the new Lab21 Aspergillus1,2 and Pneumocystis3 assays are setting new standards in clinical diagnosis of these clinically important fungal pathogens. We expect the new assays to be significant components of the growing menu of our partner’s molecular diagnostic portfolio.”

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