Focus Technologies is First U.S. Laboratory to Offer Human Metapneumovirus Testing

HERNDON, Va. -- Focus Technologies announces the availability of a new laboratory test for human metapneumovirus (hMPV) at their infectious disease reference laboratory in Cypress, Calif. Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a recently discovered respiratory virus that can cause serious illness in young children or adults who are older or immune compromised. The test detects hMPV nucleic acid by RT-PCR using proprietary technology licensed from ViroNovative BV.

The virology laboratory at Focus is under the direction of Dr. Jan Groen, one of the scientists who reported the initial discovery and investigation of hMPV at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2001.

The newly recognized virus may be more common than once thought since symptoms closely resemble those caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an unrelated virus responsible for thousands of respiratory infections in children each year. New evidence reported at the September 2003 ICAACC meeting in Chicago implicates hMPV in repeat episodes of respiratory infection, with symptoms ranging from mild common cold-like in adults to severe bronchitis or bronchiolitis in young children with first time infections. Focus Technologies announced in July 2003 that it had entered into a semi-exclusive agreement with ViroNovative BV to become the first laboratory in the United States to license ViroNovative's rights to nucleic acid diagnostic testing for hMPV.

Focus Technologies' president and CEO, Charles C. Harwood, Jr., states, "It is exciting to be able to provide diagnostic testing for an important new pathogen like hMPV. Human metapneumovirus is generating a great amount of interest from scientists who are investigating the prevalence and clinical significance of this new virus. We are pleased to be in a position to provide this test in time for the 2003/2004 season."

A team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Ab Osterhaus reported the discovery of hMPV after they investigated 28 unidentifiable viruses isolated by cell culture method. All specimens were from young children with respiratory tract infections collected during the winter months over the past 20 years. Seroprevelance studies revealed that 25 percent of all children aged 6-12 months who were tested in the Netherlands had detectable antibodies to hMPV; by age 5 years, 100 percent of patients showed evidence of past infection. Focus' nucleic acid test will make it possible for physicians and researchers to differentiate hMPV infections from those caused by RSV.

Source: Focus Technologies

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