Chiron Licenses Technology from Infectio Diagnostic Inc. for Bacterial Detection System for Platelets; Test Could Provide Same-Day Results for Blood Banks

EMERYVILLE, Calif. and QUEBEC -- Chiron Corporation and Infectio Diagnostic Inc. (IDI) announce that Chiron has licensed IDI's proprietary nucleic acid-based technology for the rapid detection of bacterial contamination in platelets and blood products. Under the terms of the agreement, Chiron will obtain a license to all current and future products for the detection of bacteria in platelets and blood for transfusion based upon the technology.

"The acquisition of this technology represents a significant step in expanding Chiron's commitment to blood safety," said Jack Goldstein, president of Chiron Blood Testing. "Rapid detection of bacteria in platelets is critical given the five-day shelf life of platelet concentrates. Bacterial contamination is the leading cause of transfusion-related illness, and successful development of a nucleic acid-based system that has the ability for same-day results, will provide the blood industry with an important tool in protecting patient health worldwide."

"IDI is very proud that Chiron chose our proprietary technology for screening bacteria in platelets," said Jean-Pierre Gayral, president of IDI. "We are confident in Chiron's ability to commercialize a very powerful same-day test for this critical blood safety concern. For IDI, 2003 has been an outstanding year with the commercialization of our first two products and the completion of this agreement with Chiron."

IDI's proprietary nucleic acid technology for universal detection of microorganisms is used to directly detect the DNA of bacterial species known to contaminate platelets. The technology is currently in development.

Bacterial contamination of platelets is the No. 1 cause of morbidity and mortality from a transfusion-transmitted infection. It is estimated that as many as one in 4,000 transfusions lead to a severe septic reaction and as many as one in 17,000 transfusions can lead to death due to bacterial contamination. Platelets, which are used to treat patients with serious illnesses such as cancer and leukemia, are the blood component most vulnerable to bacterial contamination since they must be stored at room temperature to retain their blood clotting functions. The risk of receiving a bacteria-contaminated platelet may be 50- to 250- fold higher than the combined risk of transfusion-related infections associated with HIV and hepatitis B and C. As a result, the American Association of Blood Banks has implemented a new standard requiring bacterial quality control testing of platelets starting in March 2004.

Chiron Blood Testing is dedicated to preventing the spread of infectious diseases through the development of novel blood-screening tools that protect the world's blood supply. Chiron's Procleix assays and systems, developed in collaboration with Gen-Probe Incorporated, utilize state-of-the-art nucleic acid testing (NAT) technology to detect RNA and DNA in donated blood, plasma, organs and tissue during the very early stages of infection, when infectious agents are present but cannot be detected by immunodiagnostic screening technologies. Through its joint business with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Chiron also develops and markets a line of immunoassay screening, diagnostic, and supplemental hepatitis and retrovirus tests.

Infectio Diagnostic Inc. (IDI) is a privately held Canadian company specializing in the development of nucleic acid-based tests for the rapid detection of bacterial, fungal and parasite human infections as well as for the detection of antibiotic resistance. The IDI product line is expected to provide a complete diagnostic result within one hour rather than the usual two to three days required by current methods. IDI has launched its first two products in North America in 2003: IDI Strep B and IDI MRSA. Both are based on IDI's proprietary technologies. IDI pursues product development through its own internal diagnostic products and strategic alliances with companies such as Chiron Corporation.

Source: Chiron Corporation

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