Abbott Laboratories Introduces Automated Diagnostic Tests for SARS and Other Infectious Diseases

DELKENHEIM, Germany -- Abbott Laboratories and artus GmbH today announced the introduction of three nucleic acid-based tests for detecting infectious diseases, including the virus believed to cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The SARS test, the RealArt HPA Coronavirus TM PCR Kit, is based on the highly sensitive real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, which directly detects the virus in patient samples for early diagnosis of the disease. It was developed for use on the Applied Biosystems ABI PRISM 7000 Sequence Detection System by artus in collaboration with the Bernhard-Nocht- Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany. The ABI PRISM 7000 is a complete, real-time PCR system used for detecting and quantifying nucleic acid sequences.

Abbott and artus also introduced real-time PCR tests for Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis for use on the ABI PRISM 7000 system -- the RealArt C. trachomatis TM PCR Kit, and the RealArt M. tuberculosis TM PCR Reagents.

All three tests are available throughout the world, except in the United States, Canada and Japan.

"These new products represent an important step in our commitment to infectious disease testing through a growing portfolio of automated real-time PCR assays for the molecular laboratory," said Edward L. Michael, president of molecular diagnostics for Abbott Laboratories.

In May, Abbott and artus announced a worldwide marketing and distribution agreement. Under the agreement, artus manufactures the three tests and Abbott, through its alliance with Celera Diagnostics, has worldwide rights to market and distribute the tests on the ABI PRISM 7000 system.

"Our fruitful collaboration with Abbott on the development and worldwide distribution of our ABI 7000-based RealArt kits has allowed us to accelerate the availability of these products," said Thomas Grewing, representative managing director, artus, GmbH.

Abbott's emerging molecular diagnostics business provides physicians with critical information based on the early detection of pathogens and subtle changes in patients' genes and chromosomes, allowing for earlier diagnosis, selection of appropriate therapies and monitoring of disease progression. The business includes instruments and reagents used to conduct sophisticated analysis of patient DNA and RNA. In 2002, Abbott formed an alliance with Celera Diagnostics focused on developing and marketing a broad menu of next-generation molecular diagnostic products for unmet diagnostic needs. Celera Diagnostics, headquartered in Alameda, Calif., is a joint venture between two Applera Corporation businesses, Applied Biosystems and Celera Genomics.

Abbott also has established agreements with Tecan of Zurich, Switzerland, for the development and commercialization of an automated sample preparation system, the m1000, which was launched in Europe earlier this year, and Promega Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin, United States, for nucleic acid extraction products that will give molecular diagnostics laboratories the ability to further automate testing for infectious diseases.

artus GmbH is a biotechnology company based in Hamburg, Germany, with subsidiaries in Malaysia and the United States.

Source: Abbott Laboratories

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