Biotechnology Company's Inactine Process Reported to Inactivate Both Strains of the SARS Virus


WATERTOWN, Mass. -- V.I. Technologies, Inc., a biotechnology company dedicated to developing products that improve the safety of the blood supply by pathogen reduction, announced today that its Inactine pathogen reduction system for red blood cells was successful in inactivating the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The research demonstrated eradication of both the Asian and Toronto strains of the SARS virus in red blood cells experimentally contaminated with high titers of the deadly virus.

The SARS inactivation study will be presented by Vitex at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Workshop on Pathogen Reduction and Blood Component Safety: Critical Issues and Decision Making on July 31, 2003 in Bethesda, Md.

Although the SARS virus has yet to be demonstrated to be transmitted via a blood transfusion, the concern for such transmission has been heightened by its detection in blood. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations on blood donor deferrals for individuals in areas with recent local transmission of the disease and travelers to those areas. Similar guidance was provided by the FDA earlier this year.

"The SARS virus is an example of an emerging pathogen that can potentially affect the safety of the world's blood supply," said John Barr, president and CEO of Vitex. "This data gives us confidence that, if the Inactine pathogen reduction technology were in place, it could prevent the transmission of this infectious agent by blood transfusion. Our virology staff continues to perform cutting edge research to demonstrate the viral inactivation power of the Inactine technology."

SARS is a respiratory illness with high morbidity and mortality that has been recently reported in Asia, North America and Europe. The recently identified cause of SARS is a coronavirus that has only recently crossed a species barrier to infect humans. SARS is known to be spread by close personal contact. As of July 11, 2003, the WHO has reported cases in 32 countries.

Vitex is developing products designed to improve the safety of the world's blood supply. The company's proprietary Inactine technology, currently in Phase III clinical trials, is designed to inactivate a wide range of viruses, bacteria and parasites, and has demonstrated its ability to remove prion proteins, while preserving the therapeutic properties of red blood cells. The technology works by binding to the RNA or DNA of the pathogen. Once bound, the compound forms an irreversible bond to the pathogenic nucleic acid, preventing replication and thereby "killing" the pathogens.

Source: V.I. Technologies, Inc.

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