The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a $16.9 million contract to American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) of Manassas, Va. to implement the CDC Influenza Reagent Resource (CDC-IRR), a secure, Web-based system that will improve access to influenza viruses, test kits and other reagents for approved laboratories.
The contract with ATCC is for one year, with the option to renew each year for up to 10 years.
"This new resource will be a significant improvement for accessing the CDC library of influenza viruses," said Dr. Nancy Cox, director of the Influenza Division at CDC. "We expect that the CDC-IRR will speed the development of better diagnostic tests, antiviral drugs and vaccines."
The system will allow researchers, developers and public health officials improved access to a repository of influenza viruses, including influenza viruses that could pose a pandemic risk, as well as kits and reagents (certain substances used in the testing process) through a secure Internet Web portal for approved users.
In the event of an emerging pandemic, the CDC-IRR will serve as a source of reagents for qualified laboratories to provide additional support.
During a pandemic, laboratories will play a critical role in detecting and confirming initial cases, characterizing viruses, monitoring the progression of the pandemic, and selecting vaccine strains.
Scientists around the world are concerned that the influenza virus could one day mutate and acquire the properties needed to quickly spread between people, resulting in a pandemic.